Riding Market Surge, Saffronart Offers $6.5 Million Modern and Contemporary Indian Art Auction

Looking to improve on its $6.7 million haul at its June auction of Modern and Contemporary Indian art, fledgling Mumbai–based auction house Saffronart has announced that it hopes to net $6.5–$8.7 million at its September edition of the auction. Set for September 8 and 9, the 90-lot sale includes work by 43 artists, including the big-name masters — like S. H. Raza and N. S. Harsha — that have proven to be the auction house’s bread and butter in recent sales.

The top-estimated lot, S. H. Raza’s 1988 "Bhartiya Samaroh," is expected to fetch $600,000–800,000. The work consists of a six-by-six grid of squares, each containing an abstract design, that bears a resemblance to the gridded works of American artist Jennifer Bartlett. Saffrontart has noted that it is one of the earliest paintings in the hard-edge, geometric style that Raza would explore in following years. It is also one of the largest in that visual language, measuring nearly 5 feet by 5 feet.

Another highlight is "The Wayfarers – II," a somber-colored Jehangir Sabavala dated 1990 that Saffronart hopes will fetch $155,000–200,000. Sabavala proved to be a breakout star at the June sale, with his 2002 "Casuarina Line" selling for a sporty $374,900 on the block. The artist notes in the catalogue, describing this new offering: "The wayfarers is a theme to which I return frequently. They are pilgrims, monks, or members of a brotherhood. Or could they be you and I, set on life’s journey — coming from somewhere, going somewhere?” He finally admits, "There are no ready answers."

While the sale is dominated by paintings, there are a handful of examples from other media included in the auction. An untitled digital C-print by Bharti Kher shows a woman with the face of the orangutan and is expected to earn between $3,335 and $4,445. The sale will close with another outlier, Valay Shendes 2009 untitled sculpture of a water buffalo. Measuring 88 inches long, it is made up of hundreds of brass discs.

"The global art market has seen a surge in both growth and confidence," Saffronart CEO and co-founder Dinesh Vasirani said in a statement. That statement will be tested on September 8, when bidding opens on the works, with collectors able to fight online through September 9.