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Untitled (Landscape)

Untitled (Landscape)
signed and dated 'PADAMSEE 65' (upper left)
oil on canvas
39 5/8 x 39½ in. (100.6 x 100.3 cm.)
Painted in 1965
Acquired in the 1960s by Harry H. Lunn, an American fine print and photography dealer active from the late 1960s until his death in 1998. Lunn was posted to the political desk at the U.S. Embassy in Paris in the early 1960s, later working at the Agency for International Development (AID) on President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress. He moved to Washington D.C. in 1967 with his French wife, Myriam Dosseur and opened his fist gallery in 1968 on Capitol Hill. This painting hung in the Lunn family home on Capitol Hill and was mentioned in the brochure 'Capitol Hill Restoration Society House and Garden Tour', Sunday, May 13 1969.
Gifted to the current owner by Harry Lunn
'Capitol Hill Restoration Society House and Garden Tour', Sunday, May 13 1969
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It was in the late 1950s that Akbar Padamsee first turned from figuration to the landscape as the primary mode of his artistic expression. The period coincided with the artist's frequent travels between Mumbai and Paris, cities which inspired his monumental grey landscapes and architectonic views of city roofs respectively. Subsequently, in the mid-1960s, the artist also traveled to North America on a John D. Rockefeller III fellowship where his landscapes took on a more experimental character, laying the foundation for a major transformation in his practice in the 1970s. 

As Beth Citron notes, "In spite of (or perhaps because of) spending the 1960s transiting among urban hubs in three continents, imaginative natural landscapes became one of Padamsee's central artistic projects during that decade [...] Never subsumed by wispy trees, romantic sunsets, or the limitations of conventional geography, Padamsee's  landscapes often transcended the representation of specific sites and physically accurate settings. Rather than an intent to describe the natural world per se, the artist's object was the total conceptual and metaphysical ken of his visual environment, with his paintings impressing an immediate perceptual experience that relied on expression and sensation rather thanrealist recognition." (B. Citron, 'Akbar Padamsee's Artistic "Landscape" of the '60s', Akbar Padamsee, Work in Language, Ahmedabad, 2010, p. 195)
Padamsee's mythic landscapes of the mid-1960s, like the present lot painted in 1965, masterfully use a plethora of colours and textures to remove any trace of specific location in time and space. By discarding qualifying métiers that identify his locales and abandoning traditional concepts of perspective, the artist effortlessly bridges the gap between the real and imagined on the canvas. The impressive composition, lack of definitive form, and layered palette of this early landscape come together seamlessly to subvert the traditional logic of space and form, imbuing the painting with the same poetic ambiguity that came to characterise his later Metascapes and Mirror Images.

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