Akbar Padamsee


Cityscape | New York, Rockefeller Plaza | oil and plastic emulsion on board | 112.4 x 348 cm



“His painterly frame occasionally assumes the magnitude of the monumental where image, tone and space coalesce towards an ascending truth.”

Yahodhara Dalmia, curator


Some of Akbar Padamsee's earliest paintings already demonstrate what would clearly become a lifelong obsession with representing human faces. Since the 1950s, numerous faces in various moods have materialized on his canvases. As he has explained, “expression is all the more powerful when it is about a solitary figure of just a face.” Yet for him, it is the creative process rather than the final picture that remains of utmost importance. Among the faces he’s returned to over the years, the Christ subject—iconic, yet uniquely rendered by his hand—has been a favorite.

Padamsee was born in 1928 in Mumbai. After studying at the Sir J.J. School of Art, in Mumbai, he left for Paris, where he lived and worked during the 1950s, influenced in particular by Fauvist painters like Georges Rouault, and his use of heavy use of black outline. In 1965 he travelled to New York on a Rockefeller fellowship and was then invited to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, as an Artist-in-Residence. He returned to India in 1967 and was awarded the prestigious Nehru Fellowship in 1969. As part of this project, he established the Vision Exchange Workshop for artists and film-makers. He also made several short films, including SYGYZY, which animates a set of his geometrical drawings.

He has had several solo exhibitions in India culminating in retrospectives in Mumbai and New Delhi. He has participated in important group exhibitions at the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, in Paris; the National Gallery of Modern Art, in New Delhi; the Museum of Modern Art, in Oxford, UK; and at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London. His work has also exhibited at the Biennales of São Paulo, Tokyo and Venice. He lives and works in Mumbai.


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Works by Akbar Padamsee

Specialists in South Asian Modern+Contemporary Art at Christie's

  • Deepanjana D. Klein PhD
    • South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
    • New York
    • International Head of Department
    • dklein@christies.com
    • +1 212 636 2189
  • Sonal Singh

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