Untitled (Homage to C.V. Raman Series)

Untitled (Homage to C.V. Raman Series)
signed and dated 'Husain '87' (upper left)
oil on canvas
44 x 87 3⁄4 in. (111.8 x 222.9 cm.)
Painted in 1987
Private Collection, Mumbai
Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
Osian's, Mumbai, 26 March 2004, lot 59
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Contemporary Indian Art in 1980s, exhibition catalogue, Hyderabad, 1987, front cover (illustrated, unpaginated)
Manifestations, Indian Art in the 20th Century, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2003 (illustrated, unpaginated)
P. Bhaggeria and P. Malhotra, Elite Collectors of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art, New Delhi, 2008, p. 78 (illustrated)
Hyderabad, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Contemporary Indian Art in 1980s, 1987
Mumbai, Delhi Art Gallery, Manifestations, Indian Art in the 20th Century, 12-19 November 2003
New Delhi, Delhi Art Gallery, Manifestations, Indian Art in the 20th Century, 29 November - 13 December, 2003

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Lot Essay

Maqbool Fida Husain touched upon numerous themes and experimented with a variety of styles and techniques over the course of his long and distinguished career. In this large format painting, the artist pays homage to the pioneering work of Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888-1970), the celebrated physicist who became the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences in 1930.

Known for his explorations of light and color, and his discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’, which described the scattering and change in frequency of light as it passes through a material medium, C.V. Raman was a respected teacher and researcher. He founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926, and was appointed the first local director of the Indian Institute of Science a few years later. The Raman Research Institute, which he inaugurated in Bangalore a year after India’s independence, continues to sponsor pathbreaking research in fields including liquid crystals, astrophysics and quantum computing.

In 1987, the year this work was painted, Husain presented an exhibition of works as a tribute to Raman’s work and discoveries on his 99th birth anniversary. Comprising several abstract paintings on shaped canvases representing the scattering of monochromatic light into colored particles, the series also inspired semi-abstract works like the present lot, exhibited in 1987 at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, in a celebration of the age-old symbiosis between the arts and sciences.

“In his protean career, Husain made numerous experiments with both forms and formats of painting, and his early experience of painting cinema hoardings in Bombay left its ambitious sweep of pictorial space in his later works. This particular painting, one of the C.V. Raman series Husain did in Bangalore, continues the structural dynamism of preceeding compositions. This was, in a way, Husain’s visualisation of the ‘Raman Effect’, that is, C.V. Raman’s historic experiments with the passage of light through the crystal and its nature of refraction. We see geometric segments in the upper left side of the canvas, and the Cubo-Futuristic treatment of human forms, perhaps symbolising rays of light, rushing towards the crystal that show refractions of light rays in it. The background is painted in a kind of earthy brown and Husain does not hide the striation marks left by the brush. There is something of the village wall painting suggested in the treatment of the pictorial space” (S. Datta, ‘Maqbool Fida Husain’, Manifestations, Indian Art in the 20th Century, New Delhi, 2003, p. 39).

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