Akbar Padamsee was born in Mumbai in 1928. His ancestors hailed from Vāghnagar, a village in the Bhavnagar district of the erstwhile Kathiawar, now part of Gujarat state. Padamsee was still a student at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai at the time when the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) announced itself on the Indian art scene in 1947. Historically, this is considered to be one of the most influential groups of modern artists to emerge in early post-independent India. After his art education in Mumbai, Padamsee went to live and work in France in the year 1951. In 1952, he was awarded a prize by Andre Breton, known as the pope of surrealism, on behalf of the Journale d’art. His very first solo show was in Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai in 1954, where these early works were shown.
Though widely spoken of as a modernist, Padamsee continues to resist easy categorization. Throughout his illustrious career spanning six decades, he has remained fiercely experimental and individualistic. Renouncing the rich colour palette of his early years, he chose to paint in grey between the years 1959 - 1960 stating, “Grey is without prejudice; it does not discriminate between object and space”. These monumental works have been widely recognized for their rich and poetic quality.
In 1962, Padamsee was awarded a gold medal from the Lalit Kala Akademi, and in 1965 a fellowship from the J.D. Rockefeller Foundation. Subsequently he was invited to be an artist-in-residence by Stout State University, Wisconsin. In 1967 a solo exhibition of his paintings was held at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, Canada, after which he returned to India. Akbar Padamsee’s artistic oeuvre is a formal exploration of a few chosen genres- prophets, heads, couples, still-life, grey works, metascapes, mirror -images and tertiaries , across a multitude of media – oil painting, plastic emulsion, water colour, sculpture, printmaking, computer graphics, and photography.Read more