Cover Story

Yamini Mehta (Senior Director, International Head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Sotheby’s London and New York)

By Jyotsna Sharma   1 Oct, 2016

I had a conversation with Ms. Yamini Mehta (Senior Director, International Head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Sotheby’s London and New York) about the upcoming London auction of Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art on 18th October. The preview of this auction was being held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India on the 3rd & the 4th of September.

Also, taking place from the 1st to the 3rd of September was the ‘Sotheby's Institute of Art in India’ programme. This three-day course was organised in collaboration with the Sotheby’s institute. The Sotheby's Institute of Art has academic campuses in London, New York and Los Angeles. The speakers at the programme included, Yamini Mehta, (Senior Director, International Head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Sotheby’s London and New York), Anna Moszynska (Consultant Lecturer, Sotheby’s Institute of Art) and Dr Iain Robertson (Head of Art Business Studies, Sotheby’s Institute of Art)

I started by asking her about the 18th October auction. She told me this was one of the four auctions, which would be held as a part of the Indian and Middle Eastern Art week from the 18-20th of October 2016 in London. The idea behind the Indian & Middle Eastern Art week is to showcase art from these regions under one roof and also to give collectors a wider choice.

They would be having a special sale of Indian Miniatures from the Khosrovani-Diba Collection. The collection compromises Indian Miniatures form the Mughal period, and works of art from the Rajasthani, Pahari and Company schools. This has key works that were once a part of the Jacqueline Kennedy and the Edmond & Maurice de Rothschild collection.

The other sales are the Arts of the Islamic World and 20th century Art: Middle East.  Coming back to the 18th October Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art auction, Ms. Mehta told me that there are a number of key works in this auction that have been sourced form Europe, the United States and also from South America. For example, the Swaminathan is from Brazil.

There are two works by V.S Gaitonde that would feature in the sale, one of them is a beautiful 1973 Gaitonde; the other, a rare work from the 1940’s, which comes from a prominent Czech art historian. “This could be because there was a lot of interplay between artists, art historians and academicians between the former USSR and India during that time. I am happy to see that it has been kept & preserved very well. Its beautiful – Yamini Mehta”

The other gem is the Souza from 1963 titled ‘Deposition of Christ’. During the 60’s Souza was travelling across Europe; the influenced of the travels can be noted in his paintings of that time. In this particular work, the influence of Titian can be seen, more specifically, the composition is similar to that of Titian’s ‘Deposition of Christ’. In terms of the colours of this work, Ms. Mehta believes, he was influenced by El Greco. It has been noted throughout history that artists reference / take from the works of the masters.

There is also a Ganesh Pyne from a Swiss Estate. There are two works by Ali Imam Raza, the famous artist and gallerist based in Pakistan. Ali Imam Raza was the brother of the renowned Indian artist SH Raza.

All four auctions, and especially, the Modern & Contemporary South Asian art auction, have a great line up. We are sure it will be a great success and we will be bringing you updates from it.

I also asked her about the three-day program/ course. Ms. Mehta told me it was well received. The students who attended the programme gained a lot by hearing these experts talk about various facets of the International art market and also about Modern and Contemporary Indian art. The programme comprised of classroom sessions as well as off-site guided visits to both public and private art collections, interactive panel discussions and seminars with market experts. Lunches with the speakers and specialists, which provided a unique opportunity to further discuss and debate issues. 

It will be beneficial if the Sotheby’s Institute courses turn into a regular feature in the near future.


Jyotsna Sharma is the Editor of The Wall. The Wall has been India's most well read art magazine for the last five years, subscribe and get access to premium content for free. Subscribe or read the magazine at