Early Modernist Work by Shemza at Bonhams Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art Sale
Anwar Jalal Shemza (British Pakistani, 1928-1985) Blue Vase

LondonBlue Vase by Anwar Jalal Shemza (British Pakistani, 1928 - 1985) is one of the highlights of Bonhams' Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale on 24 - 25 May in London. An early example of Anwar Jalal Shemza's modernist style dating from the 1950s, the work has an estimate of £40,000 - 50,000.

Priya Singh, Bonhams Specialist in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, commented: "Blue Vase represents one of Shemza's first departures from the Bengal School style. The composition is design-intensive, and bears witness to Shemza's training as a graphic designer from the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore (now, National College of Arts or NCA). The richness of the painted tapestry is like a woven carpet – an industry to which Shemza's family belonged. The painting was also part of his first solo shows at the Department of Fine Arts, University of the Punjab, and at Karachi Arts Council in 1956. This is a very special work and we're sure it will attract a lot of attention."

Anwar Jalal Shemza (1928 –1985) was born in Simla, Kashmir in 1928, and studied at the Mayo School of Art, Lahore from 1944 to 1947. In 1952 he was a founding member of the Lahore Art Circle, a group concerned with modernism and abstraction. In 1956 he moved to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. He was disheartened to find Islamic art often dismissed at Slade as purely functional – and destroyed all his early works in response. Shemza instead began to explore modernist abstraction, finding particular inspiration in the work of Paul Klee. He would later become known for merging Eastern and Western influences, combining the simplified formal language of abstraction with Islamic architecture and calligraphy. His works feature in many renowned public collections including: Tate Modern in London, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, The Lahore Museum in Pakistan, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Other highlights of the sale include:

• Three works by Maqbool Fida Husain (Indian, 1913-2011); Untitled (Horse). Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000, Untitled (Horse). Estimate: £50,000 - 70,000, and Untitled (Cow and White Lady). Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000.

Jamil Naqsh (Pakistani, 1938-2019), Figure with Pigeon II. Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000.

Manjit Bawa (Indian, 1941-2008), Untitled (Goat and Squirrel). Estimate: £70,000 - 90,000.

B. Prabha (Indian, 1933-2001), Untitled (Fisherwoman). Estimate: £8,000 - 12,000.

Jamini Roy (Indian, 1887-1972), Untitled (Jesus with Mary & Magdalene). Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000.

18 May 2022

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