Sadequain's Masterpiece Sunrise shines on Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art Sale

Sunrise, by internationally acclaimed Pakistani artist Sadequain, is the star lot of the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale on 4 June at Bonhams New Bond Street saleroom. It has an estimate of £70,000-90,000.

Sadequain (1923-87) is lauded as one of the greatest artists Pakistan has ever produced, despite the fact he never received any formal artistic training. His impact on the newly formed country post-Partition was profound. His natural impulses to reject the Western trend of Modernism led to his involvement with the Hurufiyah movement, a broad attempt to unify traditional Islamic art forms and draw inspiration from local cultural history.

After many years on the global scene, in 1958 Sadequain retreated into a self-imposed seclusion in order to recover from exhaustion. He had always been known for his prolific work ethic, claiming he couldn't survive a single day without creating, but this approach had eventually worn him out. It was during his isolation, in the desert coastline of Gadani, that he discovered a motif that would stay with him for the rest of his life – the cactus.

Having considered the resilience and unique form of the cacti surrounding him in that arid landscape, Sadequain once recalled, "In the anatomy of these giant plants I found the essence of calligraphy. Everything that I have painted since then ... has been based on calligraphy, which in itself issues from the structure of the cactus." Ten years after this epiphany, Sadequain produced Sunrise.

This work encapsulates several core themes of Sadequain's oeuvre, blending that of calligraphy, the cactus and, of course, the blazing red, titular sunrise (another motif he had used throughout the '60s). The result is a quintessential Sadequain masterpiece.

Tahmina Ghaffar, Bonhams Head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, commented "We are delighted to continue to offer the finest examples of South Asian modernism at Bonhams. Holding the world record for this artist is testament to the focus we have had on this region. We are proud to showcase this masterpiece by Sadequain to our global collectors."

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