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From India’s finest modernists

Statesman News Service |

A global company with deep Indian roots, Saffronart is a strong and successful international auction house that embraces and drives change. A platform for fine art and collectibles with years of experience, it is committed to serving the growing community of collectors, while also creating a cultural bridge at large. The company has set several global benchmarks for online auctions and is the subject of a case study at the Harvard Business School.

The Summer Online Auction concluded recently achieved a total sale value of Rs 22.68 crore.Works by Valay Shende, Atul Dodiya, Adeela Suleman, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Arunkumar H G, Senaka Senanayake, Surendran Nair and Dhananjay Singh saw enthusiastic bidding and exceeded their pre-sale estimates.

Around 74 per cent of the contemporary lots on offer were sold. The auction, which featured a selection of works by artists from the South Asian sub-continent, reflected Saffronart’s efforts at repositioning a market that has been seeing a slow revival.

“The results of Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction point to an encouraging trend. The market for contemporary Indian art is seeing a revival, with collectors showing interest in standout works by top-tier artists. Contemporary artists are increasingly in the spotlight due to the combined efforts of biennales, art foundation, art fairs, galleries and museums in South Asia, as well as international institutions which are turning their attention to the region,” said Hugo Weihe, chief executive officer, Saffronart.

Among the modernists, works by Ganesh Pyne, B Prabha, Sadanand Bakre and Thota Vaikuntam witnessed energetic bidding. The results show an unexpected interest in artists other than those who have typically led auctions, such as the Bombay Progressives.

Lot 18, Untitled by Prabha, sold at Rs 24 lakh. Lot 36, a 1956 watercolour by Pyne, sold at Rs 15.55 lakh against its initial estimate of Rs 7.68 to 9.6 lakh. Lot 10– abstract oil on canvas by Bakre, sold at Rs 12.86 lakh.

Its pre-sale estimate was Rs 3.8 to 5.1 lakh. The lots leading the sale Souza's The Herald (lot 39) and Tyeb Mehta’s Falling Figure (lot 98) sold at Rs 2 crore and 4.27 crore respectively. Both works come from important phases of the artists’ careers.

“We were delighted to see renewed interest across the board. Works by the modernists exceeded our expectations, and the enthusiasm for contemporary art was truly heartening. The international audience responded well to the selection. It sends a clear message that a mix of top-notch works by a range of artists, presented with welldocumented information, strikes the right chord with buyers and appeals to a broadening base of collectors,” said Abha Housego, sale lead and head of Saffronart, UK.

Participants were from around the world, with new bidders from Singapore, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Hong Kong and Switzerland. Around 25 per cent bids were placed through mobile application.

The highest bid through the app was for lot 98, Mehta’sFalling Figure, which is the top lot of the sale. Participation through app doubled from last year to nearly a quarter of the total bidders.

Around 40 per cent of the total sale value, above Rs 9 crore, came through bids placed on the mobile app.

This allows bidders to participate in Saffronart’s live and online auctions on the move, and is increasingly becoming an important platform for bidders.