Thursday, October 30, 2014

Indian Modernist, Artist of Mystery

V. S. Gaitonde’s Art Gets a Guggenheim Retrospective 

Sandhini Poddar, adjunct curator at the Guggenheim Museum, has organized a retrospective on the Indian modernist painter V. S. Gaitonde, that opens Friday. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times 

When Sandhini Poddar first saw the paintings of V. S. Gaitonde, their silence spoke loudly. Displayed in a group show in 1997 at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai, the large abstract canvases, with layered colors and textures, invited long contemplation. “This was a feeling that wasn’t ephemeral, it stayed with me, and I could recall it whenever I wanted to go to a place of silence,” she said.

Gaitonde, in his early 70s at the time, was living in a one-room rented apartment in New Delhi. Although fellow artists and knowledgeable collectors admired his work, he remained in the shadows, as he preferred. He had friends but never married. He gave few interviews. “He was a special kind of fellow,” said the New Delhi painter Krishen Khanna, a friend. “He didn’t doubt himself. He didn’t go around beating his drum. He was very quiet.”

By the time Ms. Poddar, 38, adjunct curator at the Guggenheim Museum, was in a position to help raise awareness of Gaitonde’s achievement, the painter, whom she never met, was no longer available to assist her. He died in 2001. Exploring the residual traces of his life, she discovered that he left remarkably little trail. There were no heirs. No one had inventoried his output. In a long career, he produced relatively few paintings. “There’s always been a kind of mystery surrounding the artist,” Ms. Poddar said. “He’s almost abstract as a person in that way.” As she researched his self-effacing craft, in preparation for a retrospective that will open on Friday at the Guggenheim, the mysteries of Gaitonde only deepened. His obscurity, however, ended with a dramatic flourish

Indian modernist painter V. S. Gaitonde. Credit Shalini Saran

Last December in Mumbai, as part of Christie’s first auction in India, a painting by Gaitonde sold for $3.8 million, the highest price ever for a work of modern Indian art. The auction signaled the arrival not only of this singular painter, but also of an entire generation of postwar Indian artists. Almost every work in the sale of Indian modern art fetched a price that was triple its low estimate, said Deepanjana Klein, the Christie’s vice president for South Asian modern and contemporary art.
For Gaitonde, it helped that the Guggenheim show was on the horizon. Hugo Weihe, then Christie’s international director of Asian art, told his listeners that the painting they were bidding on might well be displayed in a major New York museum the following year. In the audience was Sandhini Poddar’s mother, Rashmi, an art historian and philosopher of aesthetics. (The Poddars, who are part of the prominent Marwari business clan, had consigned work by another artist.

“What have you done?” she texted Sandhini, who was in London, as the gavel descended on the record-setting amount. Her daughter wrote back, “This is nuts.”

A untitled 1979 painting that sold for $3.8 million at auction last year. Credit Lee Ewing                    

The sale price was certainly startling, but as mother and daughter knew, it could be explained. The growth of the Indian economy over the last two decades has swelled the fortunes of the Indian business class, and with it has come an increased interest in India’s art. The trade in Indian antiquities is tightly restricted; its most fervent collectors are outside the country, in the United States and Europe. Modern Indian art awaited discovery.

The leading Indian modernist painters belonged to the Progressive Artists Group, a loose clique of painters that formed in 1947 in Bombay (as Mumbai was then called). They borrowed the techniques and formal devices of avant-garde Western painting. However, as has happened over the ages, the imported aesthetic would change as it was synthesized in India.

Gaitonde was raised in Bombay and lived there until his move to New Delhi in 1972. In 1950, he joined the Progressive Artists, painting pictures that were heavily influenced by Paul Klee. “Klee was a great god here,” said Mr. Khanna, who affiliated himself with the Progressive Artists. “Everyone felt he had opened a whole new book in painting.”

“Painting No. 6” from 1962. Credit Anil Rane/Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.       

Gaitonde, who developed a deep interest in the teachings of Zen Buddhism, gradually eliminated all figurative representation from his work. He used a roller to build up thin washes of color in translucent complexity, and a palette knife to create contrasting patches of thick impasto. In 1964, he moved for a year to New York, where he could view actual paintings by Western artists instead of reproductions.

Mr. Khanna went with him to visit Mark Rothko. “We saw Mark doing his big paintings, the black ones,” Mr. Khanna recalled. “We were both suitably impressed — Gaitonde greatly impressed.” Although Gaitonde’s paintings don’t resemble Rothko’s formally, they inspire a similar meditative mood. “When you concentrate on the painting, you are sucked into the painting,” Mr. Khanna said.

In his later years, Gaitonde would apply cutout strips to his canvas and apply his roller over them until they hovered as ghostly forms. He created only a half-dozen or so paintings in a year. Although he could be adamant about his pricing — Mr. Khanna remembered once seeing the director of the National Gallery of Modern Art approach Gaitonde to suggest a discount, then walk away quickly in obvious defeat — he showed no interest in material possessions or commercial success. “After the work was taken away, he didn’t have any relationship with it,” Sandhini Poddar said. “He went on to the next idea.”

An untitled ink on paper from 1987. Credit Anil Rane/Collection of Ram Kumar                    

His dedication to his art and self-imposed absence from the persiflage of casual daily life obviously appeal to Ms. Poddar. “She lives in a world of abstraction, almost,” her mother said. “It’s not just the notion of silence, but the experience of silence.” In 2008, Sandhini spent 10 days in a silent retreat at a Buddhist monastery in Massachusetts. On her return, she shaved off all of her long hair. “She wanted to experience detachment,” Rashmi Poddar said. “One of the things she was attached to was her hair as a sign of beauty. So she cut it off. ” It has since grown back.

Sandhini gravitated to the orbit of Rashmi and other art lovers in the family. (A cousin by marriage owns two drawings and a painting in the Guggenheim show.) “When other kids were doing cartwheels, I was at the Louvre,” she said. She melded a passion for modern Western art with a devotion to traditional India. Earning postgraduate degrees in ancient Indian culture and Indian aesthetics from the University of Mumbai, she added a master’s in arts administration at New York University.

Coming late to art history, she draws on her interdisciplinary studies as a source of insight. Referring to the rich reds and yellows in Gaitonde’s palette and to his calligraphic forms, she said: “What aspect of the miniature painting tradition is Gaitonde taking? What part of the Zen tradition?” In her view, medieval Indian art and Eastern philosophy are as relevant as the Progressive Artists Group to an understanding of Gaitonde’s accomplishment.

An untitled painting from 1955. Credit Florian Biber/Chowdhury Family Collection, Vienna-Mumbai                    

Before taking on Gaitonde for the Guggenheim, Ms. Poddar oversaw exhibitions there on two Indian expatriates: the sculptor Anish Kapoor and (in a show organized by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles) the printmaker Zarina. With an eye to enlarging its global profile, the Guggenheim is devoting more space to artists from outside the United States and Western Europe. More controversially, as part of its worldwide mission it is establishing a branch in Abu Dhabi. Like New York University, which built a campus there, the Guggenheim has faced criticism over the conditions for construction workers.

Acquiring art from the Subcontinent that will be displayed in Abu Dhabi, Ms. Poddar is aware that people from the region constitute by far the largest demographic group, but they are there mainly as temporary workers and may never enjoy the museum’s offerings. “You have a public to serve, but it is not a museum-going public,” she said. “It is not just enough to put the collection together. Abu Dhabi is so young. At the end of the day, the question is the same: Who are you serving, and how are you going to serve them?”

Positioning Indian artists within the overall narrative of modern art is another delicate challenge. In recent decades, many Latin American artists of the mid-20th century have been recognized as central to art history. Will any Indian artists attain comparable status? Rashmi Poddar, for one, is skeptical. “Much of it is derivative,” she said. “In Indian art, we’ve always had this love of embellishment and the decorative. Indian art has never been abstract.” Christie’s Ms. Klein, on the other hand, maintains that as more museums explore modern and contemporary Indian art — she noted exhibitions in Philadelphia, Chicago and San Diego — the scholarship will deepen, winning wider acclaim for artists. It is not only the scholarship that has a way to go. Within India, the conditions for displaying art are still so undeveloped that Sandhini Poddar was unable to find a financially stable museum that could accept the Gaitonde show.

Ms. Poddar lives in England, where she is engaged to marry William Sargent, the co-founder and C.E.O. of a company that creates special effects for movies, “Gravity” among them. She is also planning to return to school to get a Ph.D. She seemed confident about Gaitonde’s stature as a world-class painter, but when the topic turned to India’s place in the history of modern art, she became a bit less certain. Asked who stood on the same rung as Gaitonde, she hesitated. “I think he is rather exceptional,” she said.

The answer on India’s role in modern art is pending; happily, the scholarship that can settle the question has begun.       


Exhibition of exquisite jewels from the Mughal period in India begins at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Display of works from the Al-Thani Collection.

NEW YORK: A superb new exhibition ‘Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection’ begins today, October 28, through January 25, 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here in New York.
Finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan, Mysore, ca. 1790. Gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; lac core. The Al-Thani Collection.

Finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan, Mysore, ca. 1790. Gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; lac core. The Al-Thani Collection.

Some 60 jeweled objects from the private collection formed by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani are on display in the exhibition. It provides a glimpse into the evolving styles of the jeweled arts in India from the Mughal period until the early 20th century, with emphasis on later exchanges with the West.
The exhibition, sponsored by Cartier, include historical works from the Mughal period in the 17th century and from various courts and centers of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Hyderabad; a group of late 19th- and 20th-century jewels made for India’s Maharajas by Cartier and other Western firms; and contemporary commissions inspired by traditional Indian forms.
On view are also several antique gems that were incorporated into modern settings by Maison Cartier, jewelry designer Paul Iribe, and others. Contextual information is provided through historical photographs and portraits of Indian royalty wearing works similar to those on view.
Among the Mughal works are an elegant jade dagger originally owned by two emperors—the hilt was made for Jahangir and it was re-bladed for his son Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal. In the 19th century, the dagger was in the collection Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the Morse code. The hilt features a miniature sculpture—a European-style head.
Historically, the gem form favored throughout India has been the cabochon. In the traditional kundan technique, a gem is set within a bed of gold, and often backed in foil to enhance its color.  Another highlight of the exhibition will be a gem-set tiger head finial originally from the throne of Tipu Sultan (1750–1799), which incorporated numerous cabochon diamonds, rubies, and emeralds in a kundan setting.
Also on view will be several examples of North Indian sarpesh and jigha (turban ornaments) from 1875–1900, brought together in a display that traces their evolution from traditional plume-inspired forms and techniques toward more Western shapes and construction.  Silver foil backing was used; however, the diamonds were set using a Western-style claw or coronet, rather than the kundan setting.
And a work designed by the artist Paul Iribe and made by goldsmith Robert Linzeler in 1910 in Paris recalls the kind of aigrette (decorative pin) that would have ornamented the turban of a Maharaja or Nizam. At the center is a large emerald, carved in India between 1850 and 1900.

Ragamala – Picturing Sound: Visitors, who did not catch the exhibition Ragamala, have an opportunity to do, through December 14th of this year at the museum.
A ragamala, translated from Sanskrit as “garland of ragas,” is a series of paintings depicting a range of musical melodies known as ragas. Its root word, raga, means color, mood, and delight, and the depiction of these moods was a favored subject in later Indian court paintings. The celebration of music in painting is a distinctly Indian preoccupation.
Ragamalas were first identified as a specific painting genre in the second half of the fifteenth century, but their ancestry can be traced to the fifth- to seventh-century Brihaddeshi treatise, which states: “A raga is called by the learned that kind of composition which is adorned with musical notes . . . which have the effect of coloring the hearts of men.” Often, the mood, or raga, is also written as poetry on the margins of the painting. These works evocatively express the intersections of painting, poetry, and music in Indian court art.
The unifying subject of a ragamala is love, which is evoked as a range of specific emotions (rasa) that have a corresponding musical form. In paintings these are typically the trials and passions of lovers, which are explored in both sound (raga) and analogous imagery, with a raga generally understood to denote the male protagonist and a ragini the female. These musical modes are also linked to six seasons—summer, monsoon, autumn, early winter, winter, and spring—and times of the day, dawn, dusk, night, and so on.
Created as loose leaf folios, typically thirty-six or forty-two in number, which were stored in a portfolio, ragamala circulated within the inner court circles that commissioned them. Viewing these paintings was a pleasurable pastime for courtiers, their guests, and the ladies of the zenana. These ragamalas were also painted as murals in the private quarters of palaces, though few of these have survived.

The exhibition features Indian paintings and musical instruments from the museum’s collection.

By The American Bazaar Staff

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Baroda artist Preyas Mehta among Indians invited for 1st Langkawi Art Biennale

Baroda painter Preyas Mehta is among several Indian artists invited for the  Langkawi Art Biennale 2014, the first such event in Malaysia, that will be held from October 12 to 21.
Other artists invited from India include Babita Das, Ashok Kumar, Ganesh Chandra Basu, and Puspita Ray.
The event, organized by Art Malaysia Association and supported the country's Ministry of Tourism and Culture and orther organizations, will see the participation of artists from Malaysia and 37 other countries.
The biennale, which is on the theme of migration, is expected to bring art enthusiasts from around the world to Langkawi island.
The event will take place along Pantai Cenang, a picturesque two km beach with long stretches of white sand.
Mehta completed his B.A. (Fine) in Applied Arts from the M.S. University of Baroda here and has been active as a sculptor, painter and photographer and has exhibited in shows around the country. Most recently, he had exhibited at the International Art Group show "Across the Ocean" at the Birla Art Academy in Kolkata.
Basu is an artist and a freelance writer and has participated in more than 100 international and national shows and held some 40 solo exhibitions.
Ray has a BA degree in Bengali and is an artist and a writer. Apart from publishing several books, she has held solo exhibitions of her works and participated in group shows.
Ashok Kumar has a degree in Fine Arts from the College of Arts, Patna and then studied painting at the L’Ecole Superieure Des Beaux­Arts de Marseille, France. 
Some of the group exhibitions that he has participating in include the Sixth Biennial of Contemporary Indian Arts, (Bhopal), International Biennale Art Exhibition at Dallas (USA), contemporary art exhibition created by the artists residence ‘Crossings’ by Frac Reunion at MOCA, Saint Dennis (Reunion Island) and international art exhibition by SODEFA (Chandigarh).
Das has an M.A. in Fine Arts in Printmaking from Viswa Bharati Universty and has worked as an Indian National Scholar. She has been teaching art at primary and secondary Levels at a private school in Kolkata, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, since 1996. She has held more than 25 solo exhibitions and participated in an equal number of group exhibitions.
NetIndian News Network
Vadodara, October 7, 2014

Christie’s bids for another high in Indian art market

SummaryChristie’s first auction in Mumbai in 2013 was a phenomenal success, establishing the highest price for a work of art ever sold in India.

Jehangir Sabavala’s The Green Cape, oil on canvas, painted in 1974, is likely to fetch between R1.2 crore and R1.8 crore.

Jehangir Sabavala’s The Green Cape, oil on canvas, painted in 1974,  is likely to fetch between R1.2 crore and R1.8 crore.
Jehangir Sabavala’s The Green Cape, oil on canvas, painted in 1974, is likely to fetch between R1.2 crore and R1.8 crore.

When London-based auction house Christie’s holds its second auction in Mumbai on December 11, it will be capitalising on a market that it shook up last year. Christie’s first auction in Mumbai in 2013 was a phenomenal success, establishing the highest price for a work of art ever sold in India, and the total sale of R96,59,37,500 was double the pre-sale expectations.

Some recent successful sales by Indian auction houses have just reinforced the fact that good art will attract buyers and better prices. For instance, an auction by Delhi-based Saffronart last month sold 83 artworks for over R38 crore in one evening, apart from a Jehangir Sabavala painting for R3 crore.
An online auction of modern and contemporary art by Indian artists, including MF Husain, SH Raza and Anjolie Ela Menon, raised R20 crore last month. In the auction conducted by, Raza’s work, titled Bhoomi, sold for R5.3 crore.

However, are high values for Indian art and successful sales here to stay?

Christie's international director of Asian art Amin Jaffer certainly thinks so. Positive about this year's auction too, he says early indications are for strong results once again. In an email response to FE, he promises Christie's will have a good selection, particularly of works by modern masters. Giving details, he says the auction house already has a sublime landscape by Sabavala from 1974, The Green Cape, with a pre-sale estimate of R1.2-1.8 crore and a rare Tyeb Mehta portrait. Other artists include Bhupen Khakhar, Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, Mithu Sen, Bharti Kher, Nilima Sheikh and Thukral & Tagra.

Seeing last year's response, Christie's has decided to make the sale an annual affair in India. As Jaffer says, “We are committed to the Indian market for the long term. We have had a presence in India for 20 years but feel the time is right to make our auctions part of the art calendar, alongside other initiatives that will ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for the art market in India.”
Kishore Singh, head, publications & exhibitions, Delhi Art Gallery, says everyone is waiting and watching for Christie's second auction that will truly define the market for Indian art. “The first auction was a superb collection of artworks and had the entire might of Christie's behind it. Let's see if the second auction matches it in terms of quality and value.” He terms the first auction an 'aberration', saying only sustained success will help the Indian market, especially unestablished artists. He also points out that no phenomenal sales of Indian art happened globally immediately after the auction in India. However, with recent successful auctions, he predicts the value of Indian art to go up to R100 crore by end of the decade. If that's not success, what is?

Ivinder Gill | New Delhi | Published: Oct 08 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Stolen Ganesha in US to return soon

CHENNAI: The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, US, has said it will return the nearly 1,000-year-old bronze Ganesha idol, which it bought from art thief Subhash Kapoor, to the Indian government. The museum purchased the idol from Kapoor in 2006 for nearly $245,000. Kapoor, now facing trial in Tamil Nadu, likely stole it from a Shiva temple in Sripuranthan, Ariyalur, along with other idols such as the Nataraja that Australia returned recently.

The Ganesha will be the third stolen idol that Tamil Nadu is getting back in the Kapoor case. The bronze Nataraja and a stone Ardharanari were returned by Australia in September.

In March 18, TOI ["US museum ready to return stolen Ganesha"] reported that the museum authorities were in touch with the US Justice Department about the idol though the Indian government hadn't yet approached the museum. "The Indian government got in touch with us shortly after your [TOI] story appeared," said Kelly Fritz-Garrow, director of communications at TMA.

Fritz-Garrow said that after evaluating the evidence that the Indian authorities supplied, the museum's director Brian Kennedy recommended to the museum's Arts Committee that the idol should be returned and the committee accepted it late August. "It's now up to the Indian government to organize the transfer," said Fritz-Garrow.

Just as in the case of the Nataraja, the Ganesha is returning after an investigation across many countries by police, media and independent bloggers. In the middle of 2013, Singapore-based blogger Vijay Kumar Sundaresan matched the photograph of the Ganesha at Sripuranthan taken by the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) with that of the Ganesha at Toledo. Investigative journalist Jason Felch, then of the Los Angeles Times, contacted TMA in July of that year about the Ganesha. In December, 2013, Selina Mohamed, a Kapoor associate, was chargesheeted in a New York court for creating fake provenance certificates of several artefacts including that of the Ganesha.

TMA officials say that they wrote to the Consulate General of India in New York in July, 2013, after Felch's inquiry but received no response until the TOI report appeared in March, 2014.

The investigation is continuing in regards to many other items that TMA acquired from Kapoor.

M Kalyanaraman, TNN

Rare Imperial photos, miniatures, jewelery at London sale

New Delhi: A Mughal-era manuscript filled with Indian miniatures discovered locked up in a cupboard inside a rural England castle is now up for sale at Sotheby's upcoming auction in London.

Ancient Indian artifacts

Also on offer at the auction titled 'Art of Imperial India' scheduled for 8th October is a group of albums containing historical black and photographs of India.
"The contents of the sale is very eclectic. One very old manuscript with 140 miniatures in it was discovered in a cupboard in a castle owned by the Duke of Northumberland," Edward Gibbs, Chairman and Head of the Middle East and India departments at Sotheby's, London said.

"The manuscript is quite splendid and looking at the miniatures is a very intimate experience as it was locked up so it has been preserved in pristine condition in its original binding and not subject to natural light or insects. It's an exciting find for scholars and historians and those in auction business," Gibbs said.
The illustrated book, which Gibbs says is 'about the size of an iPad' is likely to originate from end of 17th century.

"Interestingly the manuscript contains an earlier portrait of Shah Jahan in his old age on folio seven, and this appears to have been added at some point after the production of the work," auctioneers said.
Towards the end of the sale is featured a group of 31 albums containing over 2,000 photographs of India, Ceylon, Burma and South East Asia dating from the 1850s to the early 20th century.
Sourced from London-based collector Sven Gahlin, provenances of the album date to the family of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India among others.
"Gahlin has been slowly putting together a collection of photos of India. He has been a true pioneer in the filed going to flea markets, jumble sales and other sales. The collection runs to thousands of photos of historical places, costume studies of the courts of the maharajahs etc," Gibbs said.
The photos, according to auctioneers can be broadly categorized into three categories- architecture, topographic images and generic subjects.
It includes among others 'views and people in Bombay, Agra, Delhi, Amritsar, Darjeeling, Kashmir, the Himalayas, Calcutta, and Ceylon'.
Among the group photographs is one of the Maharajah of Kashmir and his entourage, and one of another tribal leader.
A set of photographs of the train for the Viceroy of India which was constructed in the workshops of East Indian Railway Company 1902-1904. The images include a exterior view of the train, and images of the interior including the viceroy's office, bedroom, bathroom, the dining saloon, kitchen, servant's apartment and guards compartment. It has been estimated to fetch Rs 151,454 - Rs 201,939.
A diamond, rubies and emerald 'maharani necklace' from late 19th century Rajasthan also features in the Art of Imperial India sale. Auctioneers have estimated it to fetch between 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore.
Jewelery and works of art from the Mughal and the Rajput courts as well as the period of the Raj also feature in the sale, auctioneers said.

The sale is part of the India Islamic Week, which began on 3rd October and is spread across three major auctions – the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Art of Imperial India and Arts of the Islamic World.
Tyeb Mehta's 1982 'Blue Painting' the property of Japan's Glenbarra Art Museum is most expensive of the lot at the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art scheduled on 7th October with a reserve price of Rs 60,177,751 - Rs 80,237,001, auctioners say.

Other works on offer are those by M F Husain, S H Raza, Rashid Rana, Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher.

"This a really a feast of Indian art. I think it is very exciting to see how there is a continuity of modern contemporary with classical historical because you see contemporary art does not appear out of thin air but is rooted in tradition," Gibbs said.
Stating that there is 'something for all tastes and pockets', Gibbs said the advantage of having all the sales in the week is to 'cross market it to different potential buyers'.

"A large scale company school album was brought by an Indian collector in the first edition of the Art of the Imperial last year," Gibbs said.

Jagran Post News Desk  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Works worth Rs. 12cr stolen from painter Ram Kumar’s house

Three paintings made by renowned artist Ram Kumar, valued at around Rs. 4 crore each, have been stolen from his home in east Delhi’s Preet Vihar.

The 90-year-old is one of the most important names in modern Indian art and a contemporary of other greats like MF Hussain, SH Raza and Tyeb Mehta.

The stolen canvases were part of his signature Sad Town series painted in 1956 – a dark body of work depicting India in industrial transition, with the country’s mega towns battling unemployment, rising prices and migration from villages.

Kumar was decorated with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian honour, in 2010 and the Padma Shri in 1972.

Kumar stored the valuable paintings for the last five years in the basement of his home in east Delhi’s Bharti Artist Colony, where he lives with domestic help BB Shankar.

The theft was discovered on Sunday after Kumar’s son—settled in Australia -- visited the Bharti Artist colony house and advised the artist to shift the works out of the basement studio.

“On Sunday, we went to the basement and found three canvases missing. Some other items were also missing but the three ‘Sad Town series’ paintings were the costliest. They have won several awards, including the Lalit Kala Academy award,” Kumar told HT.

According to the artist, a painting of his Sad Town series was sold for Rs. 4 crore during an international exhibition in London last year.

He said the stolen paintings were last displayed in an exhibition at the Lalit Kala Academy in Delhi four years ago.

Ajay Kumar, deputy commissioner of police (east), confirmed that a case of theft had been registered at Preet Vihar police station and a team formed to probe the crime.