signed, titled, dated and inscribed ‘NATVAR BHAVSAR / SORATHEE 1982 84½” x 68½”' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
84½ x 68 3/8 in. (214.6 x 173.7 cm.)
Painted in 1982
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Born in 1934 in Gujarat, Natvar Bhavsar’s practice has been based out of New York, where he has lived since the mid-1960s. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bhavsar chose to live in the United States after being awarded a John D. Rockefeller III Fund Fellowship and completing his master's degree at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania. As a result, his artistic practice matured in New York, the epicentre of Western Modernism at the time.

While Bhavsar's use of colorfield painting can be compared to that of American artists such as Mark Rothko, his technique and aesthetic choices are centered on a very different philosophy. Often comparing his work to music, movement and the phenomenology of the body, he sees his large canvases more as representations of dance and basic physiological activities like breathing. Writing about his work, the poet and painter Robert Morgan notes, "Color is the mainstay of his art. Metaphorically speaking, his paintings evoke the life-breath that resonates through India’s centuries old poetic masterpiece, the Bhagavad Gita – a text that gives spiritual credibility to the ongoing mythical legacies of India. Bhavsar’s paintings depend on a keen ability to sustain the complex maneuvering of pure mineral pigments. Every motion of the hand and arm is carefully intuited. His attention is perpetually focused on integrating the tactile, intellectual, and spiritual attributes that hover in the mysterious zone between art and life. Here Bhavsar proceeds to construct a magisterial terrain of fervent color, thus opening a visionary pathway into a burgeoning global awareness" (R. Morgan, 'Natvar Bhavsar’s Threshold of Purity', Five Decades: Natvar Bhavsar, New York, 2015, p. 5).

Simultaneously simple and beguilingly layered and intricate, there is an overpowering sense of joie de vivre in the present lot. A large vertically-formatted work, this 1982 painting titled Sorathee epitomizes the artist’s sense of limitless space unencumbered by borders or specific points of beginning or end. Speaking about his creative process, Bhavsar stated, “The way I work, there is really no periphery at all. The brushstrokes, or the presence of elements that I can lay down, could be as large as I want or as small as I want. It becomes a very, very complex sort of enjoyment” (Artist statement, P. Gribaudo ed., ‘Color Immersion Natvar Bhavsar in Conversation’, Natvar Bhavsar Poetics of Color, Milan, 2008, p.14).

More from South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Including Works by Benodebehari Mukherjee from the Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation

View All
View All