NEW YORK—In 2001, when gallery owner Sundaram Tagore began representing the paintings of the late Indian artist Sohan Qadri, the dealer claims: “I couldn’t give them away at $3,000 or $5,000. But since then people have been converted.”
Tagore recently exhibited Qadri’s work, along with that of contemporary Chinese ink painter Zhang Yu, as part of a two-person exhibition, “Confluence,” at his Manhattan gallery. The show will travel to the dealer’s Hong Kong branch and will be on view from Feb. 8–March 18. Eight of the 14 Qadri paintings on paper in the New York exhibit were sold, at prices ranging from $35,000/55,000, though prices have since been raised to $38,000/59,000, Tagore confirmed.
Qadri was born in 1932 in Punjab, India. In 1965, he left India and traveled through East Africa, North America and Europe. He eventually set up a studio in Zurich before settling in Copenhagen, where he lived for 40 years. The artist passed away in Canada last March.
Qadri’s Tantric painting involves monochromatic colors on intentionally rippled paper—achieving the suggestion of three dimensions in a two-dimensional medium—and are intended to convey the dynamism of color.
Tagore said Qadri painted on canvas in the early stages of his career—these works are priced from $100,000/350,000. However, the artist switched to painting on paper in the 1970s, because “he found that dyeing paper was less of a struggle, and he always said that great works of art are created without a struggle.”
Tagore said he has taken the artist’s work to fairs all over the world, adding that Qadri’s buyers are found mostly in Asia and Europe, as well as Africa and North America. “The Chinese like that he paints on paper, because that is part of their tradition. Of course, people in India respond strongly to his work. The U.S. fits in in a very big way and is catching up with the rest of the world.”
Many of Qadri’s works have also been sold out of Tagore’s Beverly Hills, Calif., branch, according to Tagore.
Tagore says he only handles Qadri’s primary market sales. “There is a lot of secondary-market activity, but not via the auction house. It’s more dealer to dealer.”
Qadri’s paintings have come up at auction sales from time to time with Chandigarh, an undated oil on canvas, achieving the highest price of £34,800 ($65,660), compared with an estimate of £10,000/15,000, at Sotheby’s London in 2006.
Other top auction prices include €34,698 ($50,720), for his ink and pigment titled Smrti, 2007, which was sold by Paris auction house Artcurial in 2007, compared with an estimate of €18,000/22,000, and $50,000 for an undated pair of untitled oils at Sotheby’s in 2008, compared with an estimate of $12,000/18,000.