Sadequain’s work fetches high price at auction

Published April 16, 2014
Sadequain's 'Imagination' which was sold for £60,000.
Sadequain's 'Imagination' which was sold for £60,000.

LONDON: Paintings by some leading Pakistani artists fetched about 600,000 pounds with one of Sadequain’s having been sold for £60,000 at a recent auction of a collection of ‘Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian Art’ at Bonhams’ Bond Street headquarters.

At the preview, the well-heeled clustered by geography were corresponding pretty much to the arrangement of the works. The buzz reflected the growing interest in art from the region; a collection from the Caucasus, Central Asia, Turkey and Iran went up for exhibition at Sotheby’s a week earlier.

In the basement gallery, the walls were plastered with works of art. Here there was a huddle of the Arab rich in one corner, around paintings from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf states.

Iranians were in the centre of the room, their country represented by a large body of work including a couple of pleasant Abbas Kiarostami photographs and Afshin Pirhashemi’s provocative woman in pardah eating a banana in front of a censored Jesus on the Cross.

On the other side of the room, there was a gaggle of Indian and Pakistani bankers.

For the Indians, the highlights of the collection were presumably the two Maqbool Fida Husain paintings – with one of them estimated at £150,000-250,000, the highest for any piece at the auction.

For Pakistanis, the highlights were several of Sadequain’s paintings, the majority of which travelled here from his French and German collections which he painted in the mid-60s while living in Paris. The Pakistani collection also included paintings by Ismail Gulgee, Jamil Naqsh, Bashir Mirza, Ahmed Parvez.

Waseem Ahmed and Adeela Suleman were the two contemporary Pakistani artists represented.

The M.F. Husain with the higher estimate failed to make its reserve. From the Middle Eastern collections, an oil painting by Iraqi Jewad Selim of the classical Indian dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai fetched the highest price at £170,500 (well over the estimate of £50,000-70,000).

From the South Asian collections, the second M.F. Husain piece was the highest earner at close to £70,000. Sadequain’s painting ‘Imagination’ was sold for £60,000, ‘Mehr and enfant’ fetched £11,250 and ‘Untitled’ went for £27,500.

Ismail Gulgee’s ‘Polo players’ was sold for £21,875. With his work selling for a fraction of the price in the ’90s, the appreciation in the value of his work and the demand that it reflects is remarkable.

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