Akbar Padamsee (b. 1928)
Signed 'PADAMSEE' upper right
Oil on board
31¾ x 17 7/8 in. (80.5 x 45.3 cm.)

Lot Essay

Some of Padamsee's earliest works show his ongoing interest with representing human faces. Over the last five decades, numerous faces in various moods have materialized on the canvas. As he explains, "expression is all the more powerful when it is about a solitary figure of just a face." (As told to Arup K. Datta, Padamsee, Calcutta, Sanskriti Art Gallery, 1992, p. 2.) Yet for him, it is the creative process rather than the final picture that remains of utmost importance. His "rationale for painting has always been pictorial. It is the form, color, visual language that has engaged him." (E. Datta, 'Akbar Padamsee', Art Heritage 8, New Delhi, 1988-1989, p. 35.)

Padamsee left for Paris in 1951 and worked on a series of male heads during his early years there. These figures were characterized by long thin faces, executed with thick black contours and clearly defined outlines. He confirms that the current work was aptly done on Christmas day in 1952. The facial features have been simplified to two heavy black lines and two circles that serve subconsciously as a metaphor for the tools associated with the Crucifixion: the cross and the nails.

Padamsee has returned to the subject of Christ at various times over the past five decades. Their commonality lies in that they almost always resemble icons: "The withheld pain on these faces, becomes transmuted in Christ reaching an unbearable pitch of intensity. Then the face becomes an icon and whether it is the Madonna or Christ, it inspires devotion because of its timeless quality of endurance." (Y. Dalmia, Padamsee, Mumbai, Cymroza Art Gallery, Nov. 9 - Dec. 1, 1990.)


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