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Two rare Tyeb Mehta works lead the way at AstaGuru's auction
Dec 27, 2021
"A sensitive artist, Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009) was deeply affected by the plight of people on the social periphery. Through anguished human figures as well as motifs like trussed bulls, falling birds and demons, his intense paintings convey the trauma and violence that he saw around him in the society of his day," says Sunny Chandiramani, vice-president, AstaGuru whose upcoming Modern Indian Art auction will feature two rare Tyebs belonging to distinctive yet seminal phases of his career. In his lifetime, Tyeb produced only a few works. As gallerist Arun Vadehra once put it, "For every painting of Tyeb's that saw the light of day, he destroyed seven or eight." To be held on December 27-28, the 41-lot auction will also include works by other leading modern artists such as MF Husain, SH Raza, Jehangir Sabavala, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna and MV Dhurandhar. Among the pair of evocative Tyebs, one is Diagonal from 1973 (hammer price: Rs 12-14 crore). On a walkthrough at the auction house's Kala Ghoda gallery ahead of the promising year-end sale, Chandiramani calls it an "absolutely fresh work." Tyeb's iconic Diagonal series was born out of utter frustration and at a time when the artist had reached a point of creative ennui and despair. Apparently, one day he threw paint on a canvas, slicing it into half in sheer anger. Hardly did the artist know that this gesture would lead him to a breakthrough. "It marked his shift in style and transformed his artistic approach from hitherto expressionist works.