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Art Rises of Kerala: KBF Auction’s Artworks on Display

In Kochi
January 10, 2019

From that of early 20th-century painter Amrita Sher-Gil to new-age sculptor Anish Kapoor, an array of eminent artworks is on display at a historical building in West Kochi, awaiting auction in less than a fortnight. The proceeds from that January 18 event will go to rebuilding Kerala that was devastated in floods and landslides five months ago.

The auction, being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) in collaboration with Mumbai’s SaffronArt, will put up for sale the works of 41 artists now on display at the Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi. Besides Sher-Gil and Kapoor, they include masterpieces by A Ramachandran, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Anju and Atul Dodiya, Dayanita Singh, Manisha Parekh, Madhvi and Manu Parekh, Velu Viswanadhan, Madhusudhanan, Shilpa Gupta, Nikhil Chopra, Mithu Sen, Francesco Clemente, Robert Montgomery, Sosa Joseph and C Bhagyanath.

The proceeds from the auction at the Grand Hyatt in Bolgatty Island will be channelled to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund that is working to rebuild the state’s infrastructure, according to the 2010-founded KBF that is running the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale from December 12. “Overall, there will be no less than 50 artworks for sale,” notes KBF president Bose Krishnamachari, given that “a few more works are streaming in”.

As for Sher-Gil (1913-41), the Indo-Hungarian artist is acknowledged to be a pioneer in modern art, making her works one of the most expensive in contemporary times as well. The controversial and unconventional artist’s work on display at Kochi is ‘Nude’ she had done in the 1930s. Along with it, Sher-Gil’s ‘A Study’, made in graphite pencil, is also being exhibited at the 1667-built bungalow that is an example of the Indo-European architecture with a slant to the Dutch style.

London-based Kapoor, 64, is a notable presence in the global art circuit. At the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, he had come up with an installation titled ‘Descension’ at the main Aspinwall House venue, much to the attraction of the crowd in the 2014 edition of the festival.

At Bastion Bungalow, Bhagyanath has given his 3D painting that gives an abstract representation of day-to-day life. The artist’s innovative approach lends the sphere-shaped work a three-dimensional feel to the viewer. “There is no greater pleasure than being able to contribute to the relief of the common people,” says Bhagyanath, who is a participant at the ongoing 108-day Biennale as well. “As artists, our works are what we can make resourceful.”

‘Golden Dreams’ is Sheikh’s contribution to the auction. The artwork, which is made in strokes with paint that has gold, also maps the city. Sosa’s is an oil painting that conceptualises the anticipation of women. Shilpa has come up with digital photographs, while Nikhil’s is a landscape titled ‘Lands, Waters and Skies: Imagined Mountains’, capturing the nature in sea-side Fort Kochi.

Krishnamachari reiterates his foundation’s gratefulness to the generosity of the artists at the action. “Their action points to a high degree of social commitment” he notes, adding that this auction will be the first of its kind in the art world, where the fund raised will be donated to rebuild post-calamity Kerala.

The auction preview at Bastion Bungalow is open to the public till January 17, between 10 am and 6 pm. More information is available on www.kochimuzirisbiennale.org.