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Untitled (Landscape)

Untitled (Landscape)
signed and dated 'PADAMSEE 62' (lower right)
oil on canvas
36 1/8 x 23 5/8 in. (91.8 x 60 cm.)
Painted in 1962
Private Collection, France
Christie's London, 2 May 2003, lot 568
Acquired from the above by the present owner
B. Padamsee and A. Garimella eds., Akbar Padamsee, Work in Language, Mumbai, 2010, p. 323 (illustrated)
Queens Museum, New York, , After Midnight, Indian Modernism To Contemporary India 1947/1997, 8 March - 13 September, 2015
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Following his graduation from the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay, and urged by Syed Haider Raza, Akbar Padamsee joined his close friend and fellow artist in Paris. From the time of his arrival in 1951, he became fascinated with the work of European masters, modern and classical alike, and developed a desire to assimilate the aesthetic of Paris. Padamsee would move back to India after a few years, but returned to Paris on several occasions through the 1950s and 60s, as the city for him was a crucible for his creativity. In 1960, following an acclaimed solo exhibition of monochromatic paintings at Gallery 59 in Bombay the previous year, Padamsee once again returned to Paris, where he would depart from his grey palette to portray rural and urban French landscapes.

Describing this period of his work, Beth Citron notes, “The 1960s transiting among urban hubs in three continents, imaginative natural landscapes became one of Padamsee’s central artistic projects during that decade [...] At this time, he began an earnest investigation of light, colour, and form through village landscape studies, following a classically French tradition that included Lorrain and Corot to Cézanne [...] Through these studies, Padamsee began to develop his own distinct idiom [...] with individual houses and churches reduced to opaque squares and triangles, even as the composite images would remain referential and legible as a landscape [...] skeletons of bustling crowded settlements (like Rouen) as of those sites hollowed of houses where large swathes of colour intimate a densely thick atmosphere.” (B. Citron, ‘Akbar Padamsee's Artistic “Landscape” of the 1960s’, Akbar Padamsee, Work in Language, Mumbai, 2010 pp. 195-197)

For the artist, the genre of landscape has always represented a mechanism for experimentation and expression in his work. In this painting from 1962 he departs from more empirical representations in favour of a perceptual and atmospheric style. The angular houses seemingly piled atop one another, are formed from flattened, almost cubist architectonic forms. The artist’s use of warm and earthy hues impresses an experiential and sensory semblance of a French town. Deliberately nebulous, this townscape dances between representation and abstraction.

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