Thursday, Sep 29, 2022
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art

The Myth Maker

Tyeb Mehta's triptych sells for an astronomical amount, but Alibaba's cave isn't open yet

The Myth Maker
Abhijit Bhatlekar
The Myth Maker
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

When Tyeb was commissioned to paint the triptych some years ago, he had no idea it would be offered at an auction, especially since it was going to be part of an important, well-endowed museum in India. He has been keen that his major works remain here. But it has so turned out that a great many of his paintings are part of important foreign collections.

Before Celebration, Tyeb had painted another triptych based on a festival in Shantiniketan. At the time, I was chairman of the purchase committee of the National Gallery of Modern Art. I was anxious that this important work be part of the national collection and had told Tyeb as much. Various constraints, however, forced him to sell this triptych to Gallery 7 in Mumbai. However, Arun Sachdev, who was director of Gallery 7, was prevailed upon to sell the triptych to NGMA for the same price that he had paid. And that's how this landmark work came into the possession of our National Gallery. I have no doubt that Nandita and Amit Judge (of ToI) saw this triptych before they commissioned Celebration. There was no noise, nor were there any comments in the newspapers when Tyeb's painting was installed at ngma. To my mind it is as important a work of art as its successor Celebration. At least now, I hope it receives a little more attention, as indeed should other worthy precursors.

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