Anupam Sud, considered one of the finest printmakers in the country, is hardly ever seen as a contender in art auctions. At DAG's upcoming charity auction in support of Taj Public Welfare Trust, the premier gallery has chosen a 1990 triptych, 'The Ceremony of Unmasking', from the artist's impressive oeuvre of intaglio prints. Pegged between an estimate of Rs 8-12 lakh, and drawn from a private family collection in Kolkata, the etching on paper will be up for sale in the company of lesser-known works by the likes of M.F. Husain, Amrita Sher-Gil, S.H. Raza, Jamini Roy, F.N. Souza, Sunil Das, J. Sultan Ali, among others.
Known for her distinctly drawn figuration of the human form with an inventive use of light and shadow for more reflective, three-dimensional effects, Sud stands out among traditional printmakers. She is drawn to the drama of human relationships and captures their emotional tensions in a world falling apart. In 'The Ceremony of Unmasking', an apprehensive woman is flanked by two men in foreboding masks in the right panel while the left panel shows a masked man in complete control standing with his arms akimbo. The middle panel has a dog, indicative of loyalty, next to a blue skull. There appears to be a constant back and forth between masking and unmasking.
Born in Punjab in 1944, Sud headed the printmaking department of College of Art in New Delhi for several years. She was the youngest member of Group 8 in 1967—an association of artists formed in the college to raise awareness on printmaking. Apart from intaglio prints, she is also deft with lithography and screen-printing. From exploring architectural forms, limbs and human figures, to later extending into more feminist subjects in the the 1970s, Sud's visual language and techniques evolved under the guidance of sculptor and printmaker Somnath Hore.
Most of the works in the auction represent a period from 1952 to 2005, in watercolours, oils and acrylic on canvas, etchings and viscosity prints apart from terracotta. Some artists whose works are rarely seen at auctions, including P.T. Reddy, Shobha Broota, P. Khemraj and Ved Nayar, will also feature in the charity auction. Other paintings to watch out for include the marquee That Obscure Object of Desire by Husain. Most easily associated for his fulsome depiction of majestic horses, Obscure Object (Rs 15-20 lakh) has three cows in the care of their cowherd Krishna. Sunil Das' mysterious lady with a cat (Rs 12-18 lakh) is another showstopper.
20th century Indian Art fundraising (no reserve) auction will take place on 9 August at Taj Palace in New Delhi