"Broota's central subject is man, through whose tensions and aspirations, lusts and endeavours, the greater issues of life are mediated. God is indifferent or distant, the human 'other' is absent; the solitary man becomes the site for conflict and resolution." (G. Sinha, 'Edge of the Precipice: The Art of Rameshwar Broota', Rameshwar Broota: Recent Paintings, New Delhi, 2001, p. 23)PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK


signed, dated, and inscribed 'RAMESHWAR BROOTA / 2005 / 60" X 60"' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
60 ¼ x 60 ¼ in. (153 x 153 cm.)
Painted in 2005
Bodhi Art, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Counterparts - Recent Paintings by Rameshwar Broota, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2009, p. 39 (illustrated)
R. Karode, Rameshwar Broota: Interrogating the Male Body, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 162, 232
New Delhi, Shirdharani Art Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery, Counterparts - Recent paintings by Rameshwar Broota, February - March 2009

Lot Essay

In 2014 Rameshwar Broota was the subject of a major retrospective at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. What this landmark exhibition epitomized was that in a career already spanning more than five decades, Broota’s oeuvre has investigated, interrogated and experimented with one key existential thesis: Man. Drawn to fundamental questions of existence and morality from a young age, Broota became well versed in philosophical texts like the Bhagavad Gita and began a relentless search for understanding and expressing man’s moral and phenomenological place in the world.

After his overtly figurative and political works of the previous decades, from the 1990s Broota began working on a series of large, monochromatic, semi-abstract canvases with intricately textured surfaces that featured free-floating architectural forms and half-concealed figures. The present painting from 2005 is not in fact abstract, but abstracted. The specter of the human figure is perennially present, though represented here by a discombobulated digit. By playing with scale and cropping the focal point, Broota monumentalizes the ordinary, encouraging us to question the familiarity of his images. Through these half-images, Broota explores the shadowy anonymity that society imposes on the contemporary individual, and the insidious violence of this phenomenon.

Broota’s paintings bear the physical scars of his innovative and labor-intensive creative process. This is “Broota’s excavation of the male figure […] he developed a method in which he applied many thin coats of paint beginning with silver and including raw sienna, burnt umber, shades of bluish black as well as pure black, and incorporating linseed oil to preserve the suppleness of the surface for the scraping phase.” (S. Bean, ‘Midnight’s Children: The Second Generation’, Midnight to the Boom, Painting in India After Independence, New York, 2013, p. 138) Using a razor, the artist scrapes and works the surface to create texture and exquisite relief like details. Through this process, Broota blurs the definitions of painting and sculpture, and becomes part artist, part archaeologist, exhuming his subjects from the medium and revealing them to the world as new discoveries.

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