Prinseps auction house is set to host the Gobardhan Ash Live Auction, offering 35 rare works on paper from the family estate alongside 35 accompanying NFTs. The auction will open for live bidding on January 14, 2022 at 7 pm, representing the first time an Indian auction house enters the NFT (non-fungible token) space.
The Gobardhan Ash Auction re-creates the second exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group and Calcutta Group, 1950, in which Gobardhan Ash presented a series of gouache works alongside F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain and S.H. Raza, among others. The bright and eclectic modern images painted by Ash for the exhibition, and now offered for auction, perfectly capture the milieu of the time presenting modernist interpretations of everyday people or animals.
Ash’s art from the 1950s showcases his individuality alongside his characteristic technique and presents impeccable character studies such as the painting ‘Mother and Son’ of 1948 (estimate Rs 30,000-1,50,000). These experiments in art are what can be characterised as today’s avatars, i.e., ‘primitive’ artworks depicting personality traits, or graphical representations of a user, making them ideal for transformation into an NFT and continuing Ash’s artistic experimentation into the 21st Century.
The auction will offer each of Ash’s physical works on paper, immediately followed by its accompanying digital versions offered as NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain.
All 35 of the works on paper carry an estimate of Rs 30,000-1,50,000, and the NFTs are estimated at RS 1,000-25,000, offering accessible prices to newer collectors exploring the NFT market for the first time.
The key works include ‘Tribhanga’, which depicts a common stance in traditional Indian art and popular Indian dance forms such as Odissi; ‘FA-HI-AN’, which depicts an avatar of a Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled by foot from China to India to study Buddhist texts; and ‘Mosgul’, which depicts a man lost in thought and was exhibited in the joint exhibition of the Calcutta Group and the Progressive Artists’ Group, 1950.
Speaking about the upcoming auction, Prinseps curator Indrajit Chatterjee said, “Ash’s paintings struck me as bearing a resemblance to the crypto punks movement, but from seven decades earlier. We are delighted to be presenting what we see today as an avatar, painted in Ash’s unique and primitive watercolours more than 70 years ago. These works will also represent the first NFTs offered on the market by an Indian auction house.”
Following the Gobardhan Ash Auction, Prinseps will host a no reserve nationalism book auction in January, offering a collection of rare and mostly first edition books ranging from the pre-independence to the post-independence era in India, written and signed by revolutionary leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and V.K. Krishna Menon.