Remembering Akbar Padamsee, the progressive movement artist who took to greys

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Akbar Padamsee, a pioneer in modern Indian painting alongside S.H. Raza, M.F. Hussain and F.N. Souza was born on this day, 12th April 1928. Be it oil painting, watercolour, sculpture, computer graphics, photography or filmmaking, he was the master of all. After working with the rich colour palettes in his early years, he chose to paint in grey between 1959-1960 stating, “Grey is without prejudice; it does not discriminate between object and space”.

Born in Kutch region of Gujarat, his ancestors were court poets of their time. He went on to join Sir J. J. School of Art in Mumbai for his diploma in painting and during his tenure at the art school he joined the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) formed by F. N. Souza, S.H. Raza and M.F. Hussain which was considered to be one of the most influential groups of modern artists to emerge in early post-independent India.

Recipient of many prestigious awards, including a gold medal from the Lalit Kala Academy, the Kalidas Samman from the Madhya Pradesh government in 1997 for Plastic Arts, he was also the recipient of Padma Bhushan in the year 2010.

In 1969-71 he set up the inter-art Vision Exchange Workshop (VIEW) with the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship funds where artists and filmmakers were allowed to experiment freely across various disciplines and practices. He himself made two short abstract films – Syzygy and Events in a Cloud Chamber.

He has various solo shows in Mumbai, Paris, New York and Palo Alto to his credit. His works were also exhibited at various exhibitions in Mumbai, Delhi, and abroad. He passed away on 6th January, 2020 leaving behind the paintings which are listed as the most valued paintings by modern Indian artists.