Pakistan Picasso

Picture by Pakistan’s ‘Picasso’ Who Illustrated Camus Novel, in Bonhams Middle East & South Asian Art Sale

A painting by Sadequain (Pakistan, 1937-1987) titled ‘Three sitting figures’, is estimated to sell for£23,000-28,000 at Bonhams Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern & South Asian Art on 2nd June 2010.

Sadequain was one of the first modern artists from the Indian Subcontinent to achieve international fame and at the relatively early age of thirty-one. Whilst living in Paris in the 1960s he was chosen to illustrate the novel, The Stranger by Albert Camus, a significant achievement for the artist. He was also awarded the 'Laureate Biennale de Paris' for his painting titled The Last Supper.

That Sadequain can be compared to Picasso by the French establishment shows how his innate talent was accepted as a reflection of their own great and revered master, Pablo Picasso.

By 1964 Sadequain had firmly established his footing in French art circles. 'Le Monde et Lavie' in Paris reported in its April edition, "The multiplicity of Sadequain's gifts is reminiscent of Picasso." A comparison of a young Asian artist to an important figure such as Picasso was a triumph indeed. Sadequain never looked back, and while shuttling between Europe and Asia during the mid 1960s created a significant body of work over a period of seven years that in isolation could place him amongst the most significant artists of the era.

This particular painting was done during the artist's prolific and progressive 'Blue and Ochre' period. Sadequain was living in between Paris and Karachi for most of the sixties and he painted a number of these mystic images during this transient period.

Three Sitting Figures is a study of abstract figurative forms and was painted in Karachi in March 1963. The artist possibly saw it as an important and rare work as it was deemed significant enough for it to be brought with the artist to Paris. It consequently formed part of the Jean Forges collection in Paris until acquired by the present owner.

Bonhams second dedicated London sale of Modern & Contemporary Middle Eastern & South Asian art will feature an interesting selection of works of art by some of the most important artists from these regions.

Offered for sale are two works from Farhad Moshiri’s Jar series, one executed in soft golden brown hues, the other in a vivid turquoise-blue against a gold background. Taking his influence from traditional Iranian culture, Moshiri’s jars are fantastic examples of the artist’s skill in rendering conventional, everyday Iranian forms and visuals in an entirely contemporary medium (estimates £40,000-60,000). These are offered alongside an important work by Iranian artist Nasrollah Afjehei (SiahMashgh £40,000-60,000) and pieces by Faramarz Pilaram, Pouran Jinchi and Afshin Pirhashemi. Three important works by artists Jehangir Sabavala, Dia Azzawi and Issam El-Said which were exhibited at their first one-man shows are also to be offered for sale.

`Flower study’ by the Indian artist Jehangir Sabavala was sold at his first solo exhibition, in April 1951 at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Bombay. The colourful impressionist inspired depiction of a vase of flowers on a dressing table was painted inParis in 1950 and bought to India for the exhibition and has been part of a private British collection for over twenty years (est. £20,000-30,000).

One of the most important Arab and Iraqi artists, Dia Azzawi’s `Untitled’ (£4,000-6,000) was sold at his first solo exhibition at the Wasiti Gallery Baghdad in 1964. It was acquired by the architect Gordon Jones who lived in the Middle East between the mid 1950s and the late 1970s. Along with his artist wife he was part of the local social scene in Beirut in the 60s and acquired numerous works by other important Arab artists such as Fateh Moudarres, Paul Guiragossian and Saleh Al-Jumaei which are also offered for sale.

The Iraqi artist and scholar Issam El-Said’s work `We made every living thing of water’, was exhibited at the artist’s first one man exhibition at the Woodstock Gallery inLondon in 1962. It was gifted to the current owner’s mother who knew the artist in Iraqand the UK and had expressed a liking for the work at the exhibition. It was whilst studying in London that he held his first exhibition, aided by Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, who helped by printing the exhibition catalogue and writing a forward for the exhibition in which she described the artist’s works as ‘a beautiful prayer of a young and talented artist.’ (£8,000-12,000).

An important work by the South Asian artist Sadequain is offered alongside other highlights by the foremost Pakistani painters A.R. Chughtai, Bashir Mirza and Jamil Naqsh. ‘Three sitting figures’ was painted by Sadequain in Karachi in 1963 and is from the artist’s ‘blue and ochre’ period. Before it was acquired by a private UK collector it formed part of the collection of Jean Forges, who along with A. Fried was the artist’s Parisian dealer in the 1960s.

Two works by Indian artist’s Maqbol Fida Husain along with an interesting work by Bhupen Khakhar titled `Republic Day’ are to be offered alongside high quality pieces by Indian artists such as Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Syed Haider Raza, B. Prabha and Sadanand Bakre.

Artists from the Arab regions are well represented in the auction. Works by important Arab artists Moustafa Farroukh, Paul Guiragossian, Suad Al-Attar and Faisal Samra are offered alongside an early oil on canvas by the foremost Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said.

`Laundry at Kobba’ was painted in 1920 and it is clear that at the time Said was still heavily under the influence of the work of the impressionist painters he would have studied in Paris. The work is from an important Egyptian collection is offered with an estimate of £20,000-30,000. This is accompanied by works by fellow countrymen Mohammad Naghi, Seif Wanly, Adam Henein and Adel El-Siwi.

For further press information please contact Julian Roup on 0207 468 8259 or

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