Sotheby's has an interesting line-up of more than 60 artworks to go under the hammer in Mumbai on November 15, 2019, at the Taj Mahal Palace in another episode of Boundless: India. The selection includes Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Photography, Prints and Design. There are paintings by renowned artists Jehangir Sabavala, Francis Newton Souza, Amrita Sher-Gil, Sayed Haider Raza, Maqbool Fida Husain, among others.
For the first time, there's a piece from Bhupen Khakhar's estate. There's a large work presumed to be of his study, titled Morning, that Khakhar made along with his friend Howard Hodgkin. This is an uncoloured watercolour on paper in sepia tones, almost as if he was working on a blueprint before starting to paint on a canvas with colours. This artwork remains a mystery: did a painting ever follow what looks like a blueprint? Was it lost? Did it get destroyed? The many unanswered questions pique the interest and make this one even more alluring.
The favourite, however, appears to be an untitled work by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde from 1974, which is made up of thin layers of paint one on top on another that achieve a glowing effect. The layers of paint painstakingly spread on the canvas indicate the artist's patience, as it took months to get the painting ready for viewing. For Gaitonde, the layering was more than an expression; he considered the process as important as the finished product. This could also explain why Gaitonde was less prolific than say a Souza or a Hussain, producing only a few hundred works in his lifetime.
The brochure on Gaitonde mentions that not a single person showed up for his exhibition in the mid-seventies. Gaitonde paced the exhibition hall alone until Kali Pundole, a supporter of his art, picked up the entire collection on show that day. Pundole urged Sabrina Merchant, a TV star of the time, to buy the lot, which she did slowly over a period of time. Now after adorning her walls for almost half a century, it is expected to find a new home.