The collection of Romi Lamba

New Delhi, July 23 (IANSlife) A live auction of 85 lots carefully selected by a pioneering collector who helped to advance the field of modern and contemporary South Asian art in Asia, has been announced by Christie’s.

Centering The Figure: South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art From The Collection Of Romi Lamba, auction will be held on September 21 at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre in New York. Highlights from the collection will travel to Christie’s Mumbai in August, followed by viewings in London before returning to New York in September for Christie’s annual Asian Art Week preview and auctions.

Nishad Avari, Head of Sale, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, Christie’s, said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs of modern and contemporary South Asian art to admire and acquire works chosen by one of the important early collectors in the field. Romi Lamba began collecting thirty years ago, a time when the best of the best was still available. The depth, breadth and quality of the objects in this collection are a testament to Romi Lamba’s discerning eye, and prescience in seeing the brilliance of this art before the market fully took notice.”

The works in this auction celebrate a diverse range of artistic practices from the South Asian subcontinent over the last century, with a particular emphasis on narrative figuration.

Important paintings by Arpita Singh, Manjit Bawa, Anjolie Ela Menon, and Jogen Chowdhury, largely unseen in public and appearing at auction for the first time, are among the highlights of the selection. An exceptional collection of contemporary photography by artists such as Dayanita Singh, Pushpamala N., and Vivan Sundaram, as well as contemporary negotiations with figuration by Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, and Ravinder Reddy, is also included in the sale.

During a life that has taken the Indian born Romi Lamba from university in Philadelphia to his longtime home in Hong Kong, he has always been a collector. His journey started with antiques, before moving on to Japanese ceramics, South Asian textiles, and in the mid-1990s, modern and contemporary South Asian art.

Lamba recalls, “In 1994 we moved to Hong Kong and began to collect Indian contemporary art. Certain behaviours were now ingrained. A connection to my home country: a diaspora’s magnet. Research, focus and discipline. The paintings we hung on our wall would only be Indian (…) This was a nascent market; new books on Indian art were being published every month, augmenting my collection on rugs and shawls. We found ourselves buying bigger bookshelves (…) We chose from photographs mailed by Indian galleries before the shows opened, sometimes nabbing a sought-after artist sight unseen over the phone.”

The works in this auction were intended to be lived with, and they adorned every corner of his home, which he described as “a home masquerading as an art gallery.” As the collector begins to downsize in preparation for the next stage of his life and the latest turn in his collecting journey, a group of these works, assembled with care and brilliance, is now available to a new generation of collectors who can learn from Romi Lamba’s passion and precision.

(IANSlife can be contacted at ianslife@ians.in)

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