Audio: Lot 761 Rameshwar Broota
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inscribed, titled and dated 'NAME: RAMESHWAR BROOTA / TITLE: HAVALDAR / ADD: TRIVENI KALA SANGAM / 205 TANSEN MARG / NEW DELHI / 1977' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
55 x 54 7/8 in. (139.7 x 139.4 cm)

Painted in 1977
India: myth & reality, aspects of modern Indian art, exhibition catalogue, Oxford, 1982, p. 34 (illustrated)
Rameshwar Broota, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2004, p. 25 (illustrated)
R. Karode, Rameshwar Broota: Interrogating the Male Body, New Delhi, 2015, p. 57 (illustrated)
Oxford, Museum of Modern Art, India: myth & reality, aspects of modern Indian art, 1982

Lot Essay

As a young painter Rameshwar Broota was consumed with empathy at the suffering he saw in Indian society. The male figure has played a central role throughout the artist's career, becoming a site for conflict and its resolution in Broota's themes. Broota began an almost Darwinian study through the ages of man both in an evolutionary and moral capacity. This began with Broota's early humorous depictions of anthropomorphic apes represented as occupying positions as pillars of society.

"Satirical in nature, it showed up the moral vacuum, with baboons and their ilk occupying positions of responsibility, therefore literally monkeying around as guardians of mankind, as policemen, having discussions on the state of the nation [...] sitting on sofas." (K. Singh, ed., Manifestations 5: 20th Century Indian Art, New Delhi, 2011, p. 42)

Havaldar aims its sardonic mockery at the political establishment and passive public alike. Painted in 1977, the same year the twenty one month (state of) Emergency came to a close in India, this work is still fresh with the political upheavals that affected the subcontinent at the time. Broota uses amiable almost cartoon-like apes. Here two smaller meek pink creations seem to hover over imaginary chairs whilst the larger alpha ape, dressed in his regalia of state, sits comfortably on one of the two available chairs, scornfully leaving the other chair for his dog, chained to it by a leash. The witty undertones are clear of the injustices in society and a cry for democracy.

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