New Delhi: Tyeb Mehta`s untitled painting of Hindu deity Kali set a price precedent at an auction by Saffronart, India`s biggest online art trading forum, selling for Rs.5.72 crore ($1.31 million) over the weekend, the auction house said Monday.
It is one of the highest prices in the category of work by Mehta and is the last one that the artist painted in the series.
Tyeb Mehta, who died in 2005, was known for his portrayal of Hindu gods, goddesses and mythological paintings which he executed in series. One of his triptychs, "Celebrations", set a record in 2002 at an auction in Christie`s when it fetched Rs.1.5 crore ($317,500).
The Saffronart auction, held across all multi-media platforms, saw bids and underbids worth Rs.15.66 crore ($3.6 million) placed through mobile phone, an option that Saffronart opened to its buyers in 2010.
The top-grossers included works by S.H. Raza, Manjit Bawa, Ravinder Reddy and Jahangir Sabavala. The sale totalled Rs.17.50 crore ($4 million).
Commenting on the auction, Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder of Saffronart, said: "Tyeb Mehta`s `Untitled (Kali)`, is characterized by a combination of several factors, which played a role in the premium price it commanded. It is a relatively rare work, great aesthetic value and excellent provenance. Despite being a smaller format painting by the artist, the competitive bidding on it from the beginning of the auction right until the last minute reflected the collectors` focus on quality."
Vazirani attributed Mehta`s appeal in the auction market to the fact that "he was not as prolific as his peers".
"He did not paint much; his body of work may be just about 400. There is very little of Tyeb Mehta out there in the market. Mehta was instrumental in adopting western techniques and interpreting them in the Indian context. He was also stylistically different from his peer group," Vazirani told reporters from Mumbai.
The auctioneer said the Indian art market was a mature one. "After two years of meltdown, collectors now understand the impact of collecting and are conscious about the quality of art," he said.
In a mature market, collectors do their homework and select from quality art that have provenance, Vazirani said.
He said: "The number of institutional buyers ((museums) and individuals aspiring to create private archives were growing in India."
"An individual who wants to build a museum will buy a work with provenance because a museum is a place of history, documentation and good provenance (the origin, procurement source and authenticity of art)," he said.
He said: "The success of this sale strengthens our core belief that the internet and the digital platform are ideal mediums to reach out and engage collectors."