AKBAR PADAMSEE

Born: 12 April 1928

Akbar Padamsee - Artworks

Biography

Though widely spoken of as a modernist, Akbar Padamsee continues to resist easy categorization. Throughout his illustrious career spanning six decades, he has remained fiercely experimental, individualistic, and original. Born in Mumbai on April 12, 1928, Padamsee has been referred to as an intellectual artist, inspired by formal conundrums and conceptual schemes. He has always been interested in the science of art, always investigating. From an early age, Akbar had been attracted to colorful pictures, whether they were gaudy depictions of Hindu divinities with many arms and weird body colours or solemn portrayals of Jesus Christ that hung in classrooms at his school. An aloof, self-absorbed, precocious child, Akbar turned to books and to drawing to amuse himself. When he grew older, he wanted to learn painting and joined the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1951. By the time he graduated from the institution, he knew that he wanted to become an artist. His decision caused consternation among his family members; they were at a loss to understand why he was eager to lead the life of an artist with all its uncertainties instead of involving himself in the flourishing family business. Akbar’s future was settled by the Aga Khan - the religious and spiritual head of the Khoja Muslim community to which Akbar’s family belonged - who, at that time, was visiting India. The Aga Khan not only endorsed Akbar’s desire to specialize in art but also suggested he should go to Paris for further studies. The Aga Khan’s approval and blessings, in effect, sealed Akbar’s destiny.

Paris was all the Akbar had expected to be and much more. For a whole year, he neither attended an art school nor painted, but immersed himself in getting to know the contours and contents of his chosen profession. He systematically set about achieving his goal by familiarizing himself with masterpieces in museums. Poring over books in libraries, and frequenting art galleries. It was a period of intense study during which he absorbed and imbibed various aspects of the art world around him. In order to nurture and guard the process of introspection he lived in self-imposed isolation. At the hotel on Boulevard Montparnasse, where he stayed in a garret, he was known as the “Monsieur of the tower". Albas protected his privacy fiercely; he recounts how he told a neighbor “who asked me why I didn’t greet him on the stairs, the he didn’t exist for me". During this period of cogitation, he processed and distilled all that he had seen and read. When he felt he was ready to paint, he decided to participate in a prestigious art competition organized by the Journal d’Arte. His work, imbued with energy, reflected the rigour with which he had conducted his explorations and investigations in the field of art. It won him the third prize, a laudable achievement considering that all the other competitors were older, established artists. “All of a sudden many doors were opened to me and everyone in Paris knew my name, all art dealers and the press", says Akbar.

Akbar Padamsee Famous-Paintingss

His solo shows include those held at Mumbai from as early as 1972 to 2010, In Paris, in 2008; New York and Palo Alto, in 2006-07. Retrospective exhibitions of his works were organized in Mumbai in 2004 and New Delhi and Mumbai, in 1980. His group shows include those held at Dubai, in 2013; New Delhi in 2012; New York and London, in 2010-11; The Museum of Fine Art, Boston, in 2009; London, in 2009; Nehru Center, London, in 2005. Padamsee lives and works in Mumbai.

Text Reference:
An excerpt from ‘shades of grey’ by Saryu Doshi in the book Akbar Padamsee: Work in Language, Pundole Art Gallery, Marg Publications pg. 175-179

Awards

  • J.D. Rockefeller III Fund Fellowship, 1965
  • Artist in Residence, Stout Residence University, Wisconsin, 1967
  • Kalidas Samman, Madhya Pradesh Government, 1997-1998
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, 1969
  • Lalit Kala Ratna, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2004

Books

  • Akbar Padamsee
  • Akbar Padamsee: Work in Language
  • Akbar Padamsee: Nature as Landscape
  • Akbar Padamsee: A conversation
  • Akbar Padamsee Works on Paper
  • RicorsoPadamsee
  • Reflection on Form, Design Annual

Top 10 Auction Records

Title Price Realized
Untitled (Reclining Nude) USD 1,426,500
Cityscape USD 1,314,500
Metascape - Mirror Image (Diptych) USD 725,121
Untitled (Mirror Image) USD 700,000
Prophet I GBP 530,500
Jeune femme aux cheveux noirs, la tête inclinée USD 578,500
Mirror Image INR 45,000,000
Untitled (Metascape) INR 36,325,000
Mirror Image USD 480,000
Untitled (Metascape)s USD 458,500