Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tracing life and career of a veteran artist-philosopher

Born in 1928, Akbar Padamsee joined Sir J.J. School of Art just at the time when the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) was formed. He traveled to New York after receiving J.D. Rockefeller IIIrd Fund, Fellowship in 1965; was an artist-in-residence at Stout State University, Wisconsin, and also received the prestigious Nehru Fellowship. In his quest to study and create both cinema and art, he founded ‘View’ (Vision Exchange Workshop).

He once reminisced that he was asked by SH Raza to accompany him to Paris during his formative years as an artist where he sent his painting in a competition. He was to share the Trix de Noel prize with Jean Carzou, a famous artist from France, who was unwilling to share it with a newcomer. Writer-poet Andre Breton, a judge there, remarked: 'Though he might be 22, the country that he comes from has a thousands of years’ old tradition." The remarks remained etched in Padamsee’s mind, subsequently generating deep interest on his part in Indian culture and philosophy.

His work from this period exuded stylistic influences of some great names like Georges Rouault, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Galerie Pacitti in Paris built a special relationship with the artist and its owner acquired many of his early paintings. He worked with several other galleries, including St-Placide, Creuze, and Ventadour.

Ram Kumar, SH Raza, Laxman Pai and Akbar Padamsee were all in Paris at that point of time. This was a very formative and crucial period for all these doyens. Tied to the prevailing international avant-garde it was an opportunity for them to introduce their own India-centric influences to the western viewers but more importantly, to give a definite direction to Indian Modern painting.

Among his selected solos are 'Body Parts', The Loft, Mumbai (2010); a show at Pundole Gallery, Mumbai (2010); ‘Sensitive Surfaces’, Galerie Helene Lamarque, Paris (2008); ‘Metascape to Humanscape’, Aicon, Palo Alto(2007), NY (2006); ‘Photographs’ (2004-06), The Guild, Mumbai; and ‘Retrospective of Watercolors’, Pundole, Mumbai (2004) among others.

His recent major group shows include 'The Progressives & Associates', Grosvenor Gallery, London; 'Black and White', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai; 'From Miniature to Modern', Rob Dean Art, London; 'Black is Beautiful', India Fine Art, Mumbai; 'Masters of Maharashtra', LKA, Delhi at Piramal Gallery, Mumbai (all in 2010).

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