CENTERING THE FIGURE: SOUTH ASIAN MODERN + CONTEMPORARY ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF ROMI LAMBA
LIVE AUCTION ON 21 SEPTEMBER 2022
HIGHLIGHTS ON TOUR: MUMBAI 8-14 AUGUST | LONDON 1-6 SEPTEMBER | NEW YORK 16-20 SEPTEMBER
New York / Mumbai – Christie’s announces Centering The Figure: South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art From The Collection Of Romi Lamba, a live auction of 85 lots carefully selected by a pioneering collector who helped to advance the field for modern and contemporary South Asian art in Asia. The sale will take place on 21 September at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in New York. A selection of highlights from the collection – including works by Maqbool Fida Husain, Arpita Singh, Manjit Bawa, Jogen Chowdhury, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya and Dayanita Singh – 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, with their particular focus on narrative figuration, celebrate a rich range of artistic practices from the South Asian subcontinent across the last century. Highlights from 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 Sundaram, and contemporary negotiations with figuration by Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat and Ravinder Reddy among other artists.
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 selection of works featured in this sale were meant to be lived with, and they adorned every corner of his home, which he described as “a home masquerading as an art gallery.” Now, as the collector begins to downsize in preparation for the next phase of his life and the latest turn in his collecting journey, a group of these works, assembled with care and brilliance, are available to a new generation of collectors who can take a cue from the passion and precision of Romi Lamba.