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SADANAND BAKRE (1920-2007)
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JEHANGIR SABAVALA (1922-2011)

The Star that Beckons III

Details
JEHANGIR SABAVALA (1922-2011)
The Star that Beckons III
signed and dated ‘Sabavala ‘99’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
60 1/8 x 40¼ in. (152.7 x 102.2 cm.)
Painted in 1999
Provenance
Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
Literature
Occasions of Light: Recent Paintings by Jehangir Sabavala, exhibition catalogue, Mumbai, 2002, p. 21 (illustrated)
R. Hoskote, The Crucible of Painting: The Art of Jehangir Sabavala, Mumbai, 2005, p. 198 (illustrated)
S. Kalidas, ‘Pilgrim Painter’, India Today, New Delhi, 2 January 2006, p. 93 (illustrated)
R. Hoskote, ‘The Old Man and His Oils’, Tehelka, 21 January 2006, p. 24 (illustrated)
D. Nandwani, ‘Into the Heart of a Painter’, Swagat, February 2006, p. 104 (illustrated)
N. Devidayal, ‘A painter & gentleman bows out’, The Times of India, 3 September 2011 (illustrated)
Exhibited
Mumbai, Jehangir Art Gallery; New Delhi, Shridharani Art Gallery; New York, Gallery ArtsIndia, Occasions of Light: Recent Paintings by Jehangir Sabavala, 2002
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Damian Vesey
Damian Vesey

Lot Essay

Jehangir Sabavala’s work frequently explores the complex relationship between man and the natural world, almost always ceding power to his wild and beautiful versions of the latter. In paintings like this one from 1999, the human figure is consciously abridged. An anonymous pilgrim on an interminable journey, portrayed in a moment of rapture, the figure mirrors the artist’s own endless quest for excellence and his genuflection before the permanence, beauty and perfection he sees in nature.

As Ranjit Hoskote poetically explains, “the relationship between the actual and the idealised, the terrestrial and the celestial, becomes symbolic of a relationship between human limitations and the possibilities of the infinite, in Sabavala’s paintings.” (R. Hoskote, The Crucible of Painting: The Art of Jehangir Sabavala, Mumbai, 2005, p. 193)

Simultaneously quoting from different artistic and religious traditions, this painting is one of two canvases painted in 1999 that revisit an earlier work of the same title painted by the artist in the late 1960s. Here, “Sabavala invokes the human figure best as an archetypal and stylised presence, as questor, supplicant or pastoral guardian angel, set against a landscape that reflects and intensifies its mood. ‘The Star that Beckons’ II and III (1999) carry more than a passing reference to the raga-mala genre of Indian court painting; their protagonists belong as much to the Bhakti and Sufi traditions as they do to Biblical lore [...] In the second painting [...] a single female figure raises her arms in a gesture of supplication to the brightest of four stars above a high horizon, her ecstatic rapture and longing for dissolution in the infinite amplified by the rich alizarin and crimson of the field, the midnight blue of the sky.” (R. Hoskote, Occasions of Light: Recent Paintings by Jehangir Sabavala, exhibition catalogue, 2002, p. 9)
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