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Lot 53
J Sultan Ali
Untitled


"I was more concerned with the heart than with the head. If you want to paint a mango tree, establish a contact with it. Spend a day sitting under it, then paint it."

A painter who defied classification, Sultan Ali refused to be dictated to by the established mores of painting. Rejecting the guidelines laid down by European art as too formal and cold, Ali turned to the ancient art of folk painting in India for his...

A painter who defied classification, Sultan Ali refused to be dictated to by the established mores of painting. Rejecting the guidelines laid down by European art as too formal and cold, Ali turned to the ancient art of folk painting in India for his inspiration. A blend of the real and the fantastic, Ali's canvases partake of the fabulous and the mythical with the presence of symbols associated with folk art. Gods and Kings, snakes and bulls, birds and cats people his paintings and have come to be identified specifically with Ali.

Born in 1920, Sultan Ali moved to Chennai where he qualified in art from the Government College of Art, Madras, in 1945. Subsequently, he did a course in Textile Design at the Madras Government Textile Institute, following it up with a diploma in photography in London. He taught for a year in the Fine Art Department at the Government College of Art in Madras and then went on to teach at the Rishi Valley School in Madanapalli for six years. He journeyed to Bastar to study the nuances of tribal culture and this experience enabled him to fine tune his technique and develop a style that came to be known as his own.

According to Sultan Ali, painting is 'anand' (bliss) and he felt that purifying the soul was an essential part of being an artist. During the course of his journey as an artist, he experimented with various styles, even eschewing colour at one point because it turned attention away from the painting itself. Ali wanted all his works to convey his feelings felt while painting.

Although any particular form of folk art does not influence his works, Sultan Ali's canvases are deeply imbued by folk themes. Animals and humans jostle for space on his canvases, sometimes even ending up inextricably mixed together. The figures are painted in bright colours, while the background is filled with dark and sombre colors. Elongated eyes, puppet-like faces and exaggerated bodies and expressions all pay tribute to the traditions of folk art. To these are added the artist's inimitable personal touches, making each painting a unique experience. A prime example of Sultan Ali's work is the series of paintings he did soon after the devastating famine of Andhra Pradesh, depicting the suffering and horror with heartfelt detail.



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  Lot 53 of 75  

WORDS & LINES II AUCTION
1-2 FEBRUARY 2012

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ARTWORK DETAILS

J Sultan Ali
Untitled
Signed in Devnagari and signed and dated in English (lower right)
1942
Pen and ink on paper
9 x 6 in (22.9 x 15.2 cm)

Category: Drawing
Style: Figurative


 









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