• South Asian Modern+Contemporar auction at Christies

    Sale 2194

    South Asian Modern+Contemporary Art

    16 September 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 534

    TYEB MEHTA (1925-2009)


    Price Realised  


    TYEB MEHTA (1925-2009)
    bronze cast
    14½ x 17¼ x 17 in. (36.8 x 43.8 x 43.2 cm.)
    Executed in 1995

    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

    Contact the department

    In 1970, Tyeb Mehta made a brief return to his first career, through his award-winning film, Koodal (written and directed by Tyeb Mehta, 35mm, B/W film, 16min 16 sec). The film takes its title from the Tamil word for "congregation," which alludes to Tyeb's perspectives of Mumbai. A city of great diversity, Mumbai, in his eyes, was a place of congregation; it was a place where everyone, from all walks of life, came together and intermingled. Tyeb filled this film with imagery that appears disjointed; however, it is through his subtle, underlying theme, that the film exhibits a clever coherence. From sexually engaged cattle, to a hijra or transgender prostitute, to city crowds, to himself, and to a slaughtered bull - the artist carefully balances and expresses the complex emotions and life-rhythms associated with Mumbai. Much like his painted works, his film follows in the trajectory of his oeuvre by engaging in metaphors and avoiding narrative. Tyeb pays close attention to the iconography of the bull, an image which makes consistent appearances throughout his oeuvre, such as in his trussed bull works, as well as his Mahishasura or Buffalo Demon paintings of the 1990s. According to P. Karunakar ('Tyeb Mehta: Abstraction and Image,' Lalit Kala Contemporary 17, April 1974, pp. 28-29), the imagery of the bull is a crucial prism into Tyeb Mehta's worldview and art. The trussed bulls of the Bombay slaughterhouses exemplify for Tyeb the conditions of indignity and constriction in Indian everyday life.