• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7814

    South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

    10 June 2009, South Kensington

  • Lot 49

    Tyeb Mehta (b. 1925)


    Price Realised  


    Tyeb Mehta (b. 1925)
    oil on canvas
    72¼ x 58¾ in. (183.8 x 149.2 cm.)
    Painted circa 1966-67

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The human figure has become part of my vocabulary, like a certain way of applying color or breaking up images. It is a sort of vehicle for me. I am not a minimalist or abstract painter [...] my work is still expressionist. The human figure is my source, what I primarily react to. But in transferring that image to canvas, I begin to think in terms of modulating the canvas, distributing areas of color and apportioning space. I put a certain distance between myself as the seer and the canvas as the seen to allow the painting to exist as an entity in its own right.
    (Tyeb Mehta in conversation with Nikki Ty-Tomkins Seth, Tyeb Mehta: Ideas Images Exchanges, New Delhi, 2005, p. 343)

    Mehta's visit to England in 1959 and the resulting influence of European Expressionism is visible in his works from the 1960s, where the artist has painted monumental figures executed in sombre colors using a palette knife. In this painting even though the artist has drawn true references to the human figure in his signature early style, the figures are not the anatomical representation of the body as one understands, instead they act as forms that create space and tension. Art critic, Ranjit Hoskote, while describing the complexities of achievement in Tyeb's art speaks of his paintings being not simply figurative, but rather, as figural: it does not content itself merely with representing the human form, but navigates between abstraction and conceptual play on the one hand, and illusionism of representation on the other. Diagonally disposed the two figures, radiant as the flash of an explosion, descend forcefully into the depth of the madder red that envelopes them.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Dr. A. Beardsley, Miles Laboratories, Indiana, acquired in India circa l960s for an international private collection