Fresh-to-market Bhupen Khakhar triumphs at Bonhams South Asian sale

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Fresh-to-market Bhupen Khakhar triumphs at Bonhams South Asian sale
Bhupen Khakhar (Indian, 1934-2003), Residency Bungalow. Sold for £1,984,400. Estimate: £250,000 - 350,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Residency Bungalow (1969), an important early work by Bhupen Khakhar (Indian, 1934-2003), smashed its pre-sale estimate at Bonhams’ Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale today (Tuesday 6 June) in New Bond Street, London. Painted in 1969, the work was exhibited at the 1969 São Paulo Biennale before being acquired by a private American Collection in the early 1970s, where it has remained ever since. The work achieved a hugely impressive £1,984,400 against a pre-sale estimate of £250,000-350,000.

The 49-lot sale made a total of £2,945,746 with 69.39% sold by lot and 99.38% sold by value.

Priya Singh, Bonhams specialist, Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art, commented: “We are thrilled with the results from this sale, and delighted to achieve such a fantastic price for this early work by Bhupen Khakhar. An accountant turned self-taught artist, who came to painting quite late in life as a member of the Baroda Group, the painting depicts Khakhar’s first significant home away from Bombay. It is symbolic of the new artistic home where he honed his signature style – aspects of which can be seen in this painting. It is an intimate and masterful work, and an exquisite example from the artist’s early oeuvre. Making its market debut at Bonhams after decades in private hands, it is no surprise this sale sparked so much excitement for buyers.”

Writing in the Summer edition of Bonhams Magazine, Mark Hudson, states: “The Bungalow, where he lived with several other key artists of the period, represented the realisation of his long-held dream of becoming a painter. It is captured in a haunting and deceptively simple image, under the evident influence of traditional Indian miniatures. At the time of its creation, Khakhar was starting to achieve commercial success, and about to embark on the works that made him famous. Yet he was still working part-time as an accountant, taking care of the financial affairs of the owners of the building: the Royal Family of Baroda.”

Other highlights included:

• Untitled by Jagdish Swaminathan (Indian, 1928-1994), sold for £190,900

• Three Bridges by Sayed Haider Raza (Indian, 1922-2016), sold for £127,400

• Untitled (Horse) by Maqbool Fida Husain (Indian, 1915-2011), sold for £114,700

• A thousand knots (c.1980s) by Zarina Hashmi (American-Indian, 1937-2020), sold for £95,650

• 1551 knots by Zarina Hashmi (American-Indian, 1937-2020), sold for £76,600

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