Akbar Padamsee: Thinking through Art A Report Santa Glaundia Akbar Padamsee: Thinking through Art July 2013 Though very meticulous in his method, master colourist Akbar Padamsee’s drawings and paintings pulsate with throbbing energy. This is an artist whose work ranges from the figure to non-figuration; for Padamsee it not the categorization of his work which is of consequence, but rather its relationships with form, volume, space, time, and colour.
He is acutely aware of every brush stroke; the process of creation is one of contemplation and articulation of thoughts and ideas. The main intention of art for him is the enquiry, a way of thinking, a way of integrating himself. Padamsee’s pioneering spirit has allowed him to experiment with a wide range of mediums: the gamut of the traditional ones to his recent experiments with photography and digital printmaking. Whatever his chosen medium, the artist conveys a command over space, form and colour.
Although he is best known as a painter, Padamsee has experimented with film-making, sculpture, and writing as an art critic as well. His formal education was in the fine arts – Padamsee graduated from the Sir J. J. School of Art in 1940, with a diploma in painting and series of sculpture classes behind him. An ex-professor from the school describes him as an “aristocratic intellectual, aloof from the usual hurly-burly of the school,” showing a rare seriousness and sense of direction artist.
The most familiar works from his extensive oeuvre are the metascapes and mirror metascapes are a development from landscapes. As the eminent critic observes, “A sensuous immediacy and eternal remoteness, these form the dialectical counterpoints in Akbar’s approach to nature; the fusion and friction, the nterpenetrating energy of the natural elements in contrast with their mesmerized visage. It is an intriguing counterpoint, but there is no attendant mystery. Akbar’s landscapes are not mysterious.
If they sometimes appear so, it is because contradictory viewpoints have been synthesized. “l The mirror images show his concern with the duality of existence, of form and space. He believes that “expression must contain its dialectical opposite, the conscious and the unconscious on the same physic plane… “2 The fgure is treated not as an individual, not even in the heads here the association with portraiture is even stronger. Padamsee’s forms bounded by the line and created from an assemblage of strokes on the surface are both real and transcendent.
His experiments with the Chinese method of ‘ku fu’ have also lent his figures an agile grace. The forms carry an expression of ineffable sadness. He also dabbled in still-life. The still-life works from the 1950s contain certain heaviness of texture and carry a sense of desolation. The only occasion when he has handled portraits of known people, was in 1997, with his Gandhi series of works on paper in atercolour and charcoal. Among several shows he has had major retrospectives in Mumbai and New Delhi in 1980.
He has participated in the exhibitions, Seven Indian Painters, Gallery One, London in 1958’lntemational Biennales at Venice; Sao Paulo and Tokyo; Museum of Modem Art, Oxford, 198 1; Royal 2 Geeta Kapur, Six Contemporary Artists, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1978. P 106 A. Padamsee, as told to Meher PestonJi; Mirror-Images Pundole EXC. 21 Nov-9 Dec 1994 Academy of Arts, Festival of India, London 1982;lndian Artists in France, Paris 1985 among others. In 1967 he was invited as Artist-in Residence by the Stout State University, Wisconsin, USA.
When asked by a reporter how the different medias have helped him in his work and his overall personality, he replies, “l have always wanted to learn new things. Through sculpting, I learnt how to handle clay and use my fingers as much as my eyes. aspect. I started photography as I couldn’t find models for paintings at J] School of Art and got hold of an agent who found me film extras. Initially, I used their pictures for drawings but then gradually started enjoying photography. I learnt how the human ody could be transformed with the way you work with light.
Today when I paint a nude, it helps me take a different dimension. “3 REFERENCES 1 . Tuli, Neville. The Flamed-Mosaic: Indian Contemporary Painting. Ahemdabad: HEART in association with Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd. , 1997 2. Contemporary Indian Art http://www. contemporaryindianart. com/akbar_padamsee. htm 3. Mid-day Infomedia Limited http://www. mid-day. com/news/2013/feb/170213-akbar- padamsee-artist- paintings. htm 4. Saffronart http://www. saffronart. com/artists/a-padamsee 3 Interview by Rinky Kumar for Midday, February 7, 2013