lamba: collector Romi Lamba’s selection of artworks by MF Husain, Manjit Bawa goes under the hammer

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Romi Lamba began collecting thirty years ago when the best of the best was still available, says Nishad Avari, Head of Sale, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, Christie’s. Christie’s has announced a live auction of 85 lots, carefully selected by a pioneering collector who helped advance the field of modern and contemporary South Asian art in Asia. The Centering The Figure: South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art From The Collection Of Romi Lamba auction will take place on September 21 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in New York. Highlights from the collection will travel to Christie’s Mumbai in August, followed by tours in London before returning to New York in September for Christie’s annual preview and auctions at Asian Art Week.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs of modern and contemporary South Asian art to admire and acquire works selected by one of the most important early collectors in the field. The depth, breadth and quality of the objects in this collection are a testament to Romi Lamba’s keen eye and foresight to see the brilliance of this art before the market took full notice,” adds Avari.

A selection of highlights from the collection includes works by Maqbool Fida Husain, Arpita Singh, Manjit Bawa, Jogen Chowdhury, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya and Dayanita Singh – will initially travel to Christie’s in Mumbai in August followed by viewings in London before she returning to New York in September for Christie’s annual Asian Art Week preview and auctions

A rich offer
The works in this auction, with their special focus on narrative figuration, celebrate a rich spectrum of artistic practices of the South Asian subcontinent in the last century. Highlights of the selection include 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. Also included in the sale is an exceptional collection of contemporary photography by artists such as Dayanita Singh, Pushpamala N. and Vivan and contemporary negotiations with figuration by Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat and Ravinder Reddy among other artists.

Throughout his life, which took Indian-born Lamba from the University of Philadelphia to his long-term home in Hong Kong, he was always a collector. His journey began 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 started collecting Indian contemporary art. Certain behaviors were now ingrained. A connection to my homeland: magnet of a diaspora. Research, focus and discipline. The paintings we hung on our wall would only be Indian. This was an emerging market; New books on Indian art were published every month, adding to my collection of carpets and shawls. We bought bigger bookshelves. We selected photos that Indian galleries had emailed before the shows opened and sometimes snagged a coveted artist who they had seen unseen on the phone.”

The selection of works featured in this sale were destined to live with and adorned every corner of his home, which he described as “a house masquerading as an art gallery.” Now, as the collector begins to downsize in preparation for the next phase of his life and the final turning point in his collecting journey, a group of these works, assembled with care and brilliance, are available to a new generation of collectors who are turning cue from the passion and precision of Lamba.

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