Monday, December 17, 2012

Looking back at ‘Wish Dream’ and a new record

Arpita Singh’s art is informed by magnificent miniaturist painting, folk art, textiles and other elements of India’s rich visual culture. She skillfully weaves such diverse elements and influences into dense and deft tapestries of personal experiences, reflections and imagination of the real world. We look back at a historic event when ‘Wish Dream’, a monumental (16-piece; 24-by-13-ft) mural by her done almost a decade ago, fetched a record price in 2010:

Saffronart’s annual winter auction by top modern & contemporary Indian artists a couple of years ago included a work by Arpita Singh. A price tag of Rs 9.6 crore (close to $2.25 million) for ‘Wish Dream’ broke quite a few records. The price was the highest ever for a work by an Indian female artist to be offered in auction, overtaking Bharti Kher's ‘The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own’. For record, it went for $1.5 million a few months ago at a Sotheby's auction.

Arpita Singh thus became the first artist of her generation to find a place into the top bracket until now dominated by SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009) and FN Souza (1922-2002). India's most renowned artist (now a citizen of Qatar) MF Husain was said to have claimed a Rs 100-crore private commission.

‘The Wish Dream’ took her a year to complete. Given the commission in 2000, she was inspired by the phrase that she had come across in a Tibetan play.  The mural (24 feet x 13 feet) is said to arise out of her complex oeuvre that spans well over four decades.

The artist stated in an interview: “The mural displays the dreams and wishes of a woman (within our society) and how it progresses and the way it’s related to other women through ritual. Wedding is the most important ritual, so you will notice a woman who is standing - and from behind - two hands of a man holding her.” It is comprised of 16 panels. The work inspired by Buddhist monastic traditions, is strewn with fascinating flowers, fragments of text, numbers, aircraft and cars.

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