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The Casuarina Line II

JEHANGIR SABAVALA (1922-2011) The Casuarina Line II signed and dated 'Sabavala '02' (lower right) oil on canvas 30 x 50 in. (76.2 x 127 cm.) Painted in 2002
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
R. Hoskote, The Crucible of Painting: The Art of Jehangir Sabavala, Mumbai, 2005, pp. 188-189 (illustrated)
R.S. Kulkarni, 'One for the Record', The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, 12 October 2008 (illustrated)
Mumbai and New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art, Jehangir Sabavala, A Retrospective, 19 December 2005 - 9 January 2006

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Lot Essay

Evolving from detailed studies in Jehangir Sabavala's sketch books, his landscapes are complex constructions based on meticulous linear schema. Their horizontals and verticals, points of focus and perspective, divide and define the picture plane, bestowing the image with a sense of structure. This 'map' is then brought to life by the artist's nuanced palette, which effortlessly negotiates entire families of tones and micro-tones to give rise to vistas that are at once restrained and emotionally charged.

The present work is part of a series of three paintings from 2002 that explores the effects of changing light on the land and sea at various points in the diurnal cycle. This particular painting offers a dazzling sunset view of the uninhabited sandbar at the horizon that features in each of the works. Sandwiched between the sky and the ocean, both lit up in brilliant shades of orange and vermillion by the setting sun, this small peninsula is populated only by a group of casuarina or ironwood trees, which merge into a single entity in front of the golden orb.

"In 'The Casuarina Line' series (2002), Sabavala absorbs the topographical features of a landscape in a broken grid of sight lines and link lines, releasing the energies of the moon or the sun into an interplay of the celestial object and its reflection in water, or producing a system of linear echoes that unites the stand of trees with the expanse of sky and water that surrounds it. The variety of surfaces fascinates the artist in these works, as he explores ways by which he can organise the limpidity of water, the porosity of sand, the thickness of leaves and the effulgence of light into a harmonious, coalescent polyphony." (R. Hoskote, Limited Edition Serigraphs by Jehangir Sabavala 'The Complete Collection', Mumbai, 2008, p. 60)

Calling his paintings "occasions of light", Ranjit Hoskote notes that, "Sabavala's art derives its crucial tension from the dialectic between the actual and the idealised: his paintings come to life in the conceptual region between mutable terrain and timeless landscape [...] The principal device by which Sabavala transmutes and idealises the forms of nature in his paintings is a crystalline geometry, which dissolves bodies, objects and topographies, and re-constitutes them as prismatic structures. Even the relatively abstractionist passages in Sabavala's paintings are carefully modulated through this crystalline geometry; there is no leeway here for the haphazard gesture or the spontaneous pictorial effusion." (R. Hoskote, The Crucible of Painting: The Art of Jehangir Sabavala, Mumbai, 2005, p. 168, 176-77)

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