Kishore Singh tries to explain why Akbar Padamsee has had so much trouble breaking into the first rank of Indian Modern artists. But this week at Christie’s his work doubled the estimate and Sotheby’s secured a buyer for theirs:
Traditionally, he has always been part of gallery and auction sales but for the first time he is in all the important auctions this spring, and he seems to be getting his recognition the only way most of us acknowledge it: With prices that are high-going-on-higher. […] A student of the JJ School of Art and considered an “intellectual artist” by critics, Padamsee’s style of painting is key to his market. Padamsee shares his choice of subjects with some of the Progressives, but unlike them his voice has been more gently modulated. Padamsee has most in common with F N Souza (his penchant for heads, his preoccupation with Christianity) and K H Ara (all three have painted nudes) — but where Souza is brutal in his lines and Ara assertive, Padamsee’s subjects remain strangely acquiescent. It is almost as though they sublimate themselves while it is as a master-colourist that he excels.
Padamsee layers his works in a complex patina, but with his monochromatic, almost reticent use of colours and near-contrite outlines and figures, he seems to be apologising to the viewer who is then drawn to comparisons with the more forceful lines of the other artists. It is this subservience of colour and form that has relegated Padamsee to the wings. People are drawn to his hauntingly layered patinas, but overlook him because his contemporaries are so much more overwhelming, perhaps because their work resounds with urgency where Padamsee’s is contemplative.
Punting on Padamsee (Business Standard)