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Akbar Padamsee(India)

1928 - 2020


Astaguru Auction House Propety from an important Delhi based collection, artwork was acquired by the previous owner directly from the artist. Lot No. 62


Untitled (Head)


Water Colour on Paper




22.5 x 15 Inch

The life story of Akbar Padamsee (1928 - 2020) sermonizes to us that art and intellect are two sides of a coin—intellect arms you with knowledge while art nourishes you to perceive with essential profundity. Akbar notably discusses ‘schema’ in his paintings, which forms an underlining armature supporting the abstract-figurative alliance of his oeuvre. Of Akbar’s schema, Adult Dodiya, the renowned contemporary artist, shares, “His work was all about structure, he would make a grid; he approached his work as a mathematician and then he would take his creativity and intuition and add that to the composition and make it profound. The energy and the way he applied oil paint, the tonalities generated by his energy, that’s what makes him such an important artist” (Maddox, 2020).


In his interview with Homi Bhabha (Marg, 2010), Akbar, in detail, provides a distinct glimpse of his strategic outlook concerning the scheme. He declares, “they are half intuitive and half planned, and keep changing and developing. I often erase while building - a head, a nude, or a landscape - so that the schema goes on changing as the head develops". To the same, Homi Bhabha ponders and states, “The abstract grid - partly planned, partly intuitive, partly visible, partly erased - is, in a sense, the axis of the figure. The representational figure - the human body - revolves around the abstract possibilities and contingencies of the conceptual grid. Body becomes line; embodiment and inscription, the human figure and conceptual form are not that far apart”.


Akbar was born in a wealthy Khoja Muslim family from Kutch in 1928 and belonged to the charana community. He was one of the eight brothers born to Hassan and Jenabai Padamsee. Accessibility to a range of experiences and places paired with Nicky Padamsee’s motivation to study Indian and world philosophy like Upanishads, Sanskrit shlokas, Rasa theory, Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam, Sigmund Freud, among others, moulded his conscientious drive in exploring deeper realms of unmanifested, delivering an abstract image to the metaphysical. Hence, with a strengthened background of knowledge came his mature sensibilities that reflect his stance in the Lovers’ court case, nude photography in later years, and producing extraordinary movies like Syzygy and Events in the Cloud Chamber, which were far ahead of the time. 


Akbar passed away in January 2020, during his last exhibition by one of the reputed galleries of Mumbai. Chronologically, the overview of his life reveals segmented episodes of experiential wisdom, artistic journey calibrating concrete with transcendental and vice-versa, and unbiased thought process. Transitioning from astute figurative to rejecting colours, delving into metascapes that reconcile science to the spirit, and eventually assimilating all the essence into tertiary figurative, Akbar was a journeyman with an everlasting will to probe in sensuality supplied with a vast storehouse of logical data.

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