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Painting No. 1 (1962)
By Vasudeo S Gaitonde
Oil on canvas
Signed, dated and inscribed ‘Painting No. 1/ GAITONDE. 62’ in English and
Devanagari on reverse
Size: 127 x 127 centimetres (50 x 50 inches)
Estimated price: £250,000-450,000

The reclusive Indian artist Vasudeo Gaitonde isolated himself from others, removing distractions that would interfere with his goal in achieving the purest form of expression. Today, Gaitonde is regarded as one of the Subcontinent’s most significant modern painters and is the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

On June 11, Sotheby’s London will be auctioning Painting No. 1, an important work from 1962. Painting No. 1 was acquired in New York in the mid-1960s and is believed to have been obtained via the influential art collector and philanthropist, John D Rockefeller III. This exquisite painting is rendered in translucent layers of celadon green, populated by deep blue abstract shapes that emerge from an imaginary horizon and punctuated by a striking red dot. This canvas relates closely to Painting No. 4 in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Both works demonstrate Gaitonde’s experimentation with hieroglyphic forms and his distinctive use of a meditative green palette. Gaitonde’s influences included the techniques of Mark Rothko and Hans Hofmann, the palette of Indian miniature painting and Japanese Zen philosophy.

From the 1960s onwards Gaitonde began using a roller and palette knife to apply and remove multiple layers of pigment. His primary concern was not representation but with the painted surface itself. Through his laborious technique Gaitonde achieved varying depths of light, colour and texture. Gaitonde’s meticulous and philosophic approach to his art resulted in him producing very few canvases during his lifetime, which makes the sale of Painting No. 1 a rare opportunity to acquire a significant work from the artist’s oeuvre.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 2, 2013.