Prinseps to host Gobardhan Ash auction, the first NFT auction in India

Prinseps to host Gobardhan Ash auction, the first NFT auction in India(PHOTO: IANS)

For the very first time, artworks by modern Indian artist Gobardhan Ash will go under the hammer at India’s first-ever NFT auction, which will be hosted by Mumbai-based auction house Prinseps. The live sale titled, “Gobardhan Ash Auction” will open for live bidding on January 14, 2022, at 7 pm which will offer 35 rare works on paper by the artist, alongside 35 accompanying NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

The auction will offer each of Ash’s physical works on paper, immediately followed by its accompanying digital versions offered as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) minted on the Ethereum block-chain.

While the physical works on paper carry an estimate of Rs 30,000 – 1,50,000, the NFTs are estimated at Rs 1,000 – 25,000, offering accessible prices to newer collectors exploring the NFT market for the first time.

According to the auction house, the sale will recreate the second exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group and Calcutta Group held in 1950, in which Ash presented a series of gouache works alongside FN Souza, MF Husain and SH Raza amongst others.

NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens are a new technology phenomenon allowing clear ownership and easy transfer ability of digital art which can be unique or in editions. In understanding NFT, one needs to understand digital art and perhaps the progression of the mediums on which art is painted/ executed. Since time immemorial – art has been painted on wooden panels, walls, paper, and from around the 16th century on canvas.

Ash’s experiments in art from the 1950s are exactly what can be characterized as avatars, that is, ‘primitive’ artworks depicting personality traits. His art from the 1950s showcases his individuality alongside his characteristic and inimitable technique. His paintings include a technique composed of a scientific arrangement of color dots, almost pointillist. His works being impeccable character studies such as the painting ‘Mother and Son’. The works are all watercolor on paper, with vibrant colors making them quite ideal for transformation into an NFT. As we blend the old with the new, we begin our auction of these ‘avatars’, with one physical artwork, followed by its NFT. The Prinseps Gobardhan Ash Avatar auction includes 35 rare works on paper from the 1950s and 35 unique edition tokens of the same. We are proud to re-create an exhibition that happened in the 1950s, that bears semblance to the crypto punks movement, but from seven decades ago.

In the current wave of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), brands like Adidas and Nike, and public figures like Yuvraj Singh and Melania Trump along with India’s first action house, are the latest to venture. NFTs have become a mainstay of auction houses and the art market, where virtual works have fetched multi-million dollar prices.