6th Sept, 2008

The order of the contemporary artists has been consolidating for some while now, with their increasing popularity overseas as well as with younger collectors. So it should come as no surprise that the autumn online auction by Saffronart this week should uphold the premium place that Subodh Gupta holds.

Two of his works, Idol Thief about his theatre of polished pans, milkpails and other shiny, stainless steel kitchen utensils, and Saat Samundar Paar on the baggage and the dreams of Indians going abroad to an almost bonded lifestyle to bring back goods for their families, both estimated between Rs 2-2.8 crore, each sold for Rs 4.28 crore and Rs 3.4 crore.

The big surprise at the auction was T V Santhosh whose oil on canvas, When your target cries for mercy, was also on the catalogue jacket. Estimated between Rs 50-60 lakh, Santhosh’s work fetched an amazing Rs 2.8 crore at the auction.

The only other artist to cross the crore mark was Anju Dodiya whose The Site fetched Rs 1.06 crore. In comparison, husband Atul Dodiya’s Untitled work fetched only Rs 69 lakh against an estimate of Rs 60-80 lakh. Anju Dodiya’s work had been estimated lower at Rs 40-60 lakh.

Sudhir Patwardhan could not breach the crore mark, though his The Clearing was expected to do very well. Against an estimate of Rs 50-60 lakh, it sold for Rs 93 lakh.

Others in the top 10 included Jagannath Panda (Rs 83 lakh for Home Grown), Shibu Natesan (Rs 79 lakh for Against the Wind), G R Iranna (Rs 72.5 lakh for Lesson for Blindness) and Jitish Kallat (Rs 68 lakh for Brand New Divinity).

In all, 104 of the lots sold from a total of 130, 86 of them breaching the higher estimates. Overall, against a low estimate of Rs 16.6 crore and a high estimate of Rs 21.20 crore, the auction realised a value of Rs 28.60 crore, including the buyer’s premium.

"It was great," said Saffronart’s Dinesh Vazirani on the conclusion of the two-day online auction, "to see a wide participation of bidders and the strong momentum in the Indian contemporary market."

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