e"> "Close Cart"



Item Description:


Acrylic emulsion on paper


25 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. (65 x 49.2 cm.)

Signed and dated 'PADAMSEE / 63' upper right

'Grey is without prejudice. It does not discriminate between object and space. The object is space. The brush moves across them and from the will of the movement, form is born.' (Akbar Padamsee in conversation with Saryu Doshi, 'Shades of Grey', Akbar Padamsee: Work in Language, Mumbai, 2010, pp. 180-181)

When Padamsee returned to India from Paris in 1959, the paintings that immediately followed showed a distinctive change from the works he had created until then. At the end of the 1950s, leading into the early 1960s, he began to work primarily in tones of grey. Whether he was painting the monumental cityscapes such as Greek Landscape (1959) or the large in scale, but sensitively rendered female nudes such as Grey Nude (1960), the palette was restricted to monochromatic tones of grey. The body of work that evolved in a short period of time was exhibited at the newly opened Gallery 59 in Mumbai to huge critical acclaim. An anonymous art critic from The Times of India wrote, 'so outstanding is their quality, that even the normally reticent observer will be deeply moved.' ('The Painter's Painter: Padamsee Enters Exciting Phase', The Times of India, Mumbai, 1 April, 1960)

'By restricting himself to greys, like the Chinese masters who confine themselves to the various shades of black, he strikes the richest vein of poetry in his art. In the paintings of 1959 and 1960 there is a lyrical intensity which comes from a passionate love affair. The affair is between the artist and his art.' (Shamlal, Padamsee, Sadanga Series by Vakils, Mumbai, 1964, p. 7)

The current head from 1963, continues this exploration with black and white emulsion paint to arrive at the perfect shades of grey. In addition to finding the ideal colour, Padamsee was also preoccupied with using a particular type of brushstrokes which were '... singular brush strokes across the canvas without any interruptions. This was possible because I was using only grey and did not need to stop. There was no distinction of hue between the background and figure except that at one point it would emerge.' (Saryu Doshi, op. cit., p. 180) While the present work is much smaller in scale than the large landscapes where this theory would have applied, his idea is clearly elucidated here, as the treatment of the background and the figure remain consistent, and the head emerges subtly out of the surrounding ground.


The brown paper tones of the original are paler than they appear in the catalogue illustration. There is a great tonal contrast in the blacks and greys of the original when compared to the catalogue illustration. The painting has been recently laid down onto Japanese conservation paper. Minor tears at the extreme edges of the work have been restored and strengthened from the reverse. Further scattered hairline creasing remains visible throughout, and is partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Further minor spots of pigment loss have been retouched, which are not visible in the catalogue illustration. Fair overall condition.

About The Artist:

AKBAR PADAMSEE (1928-2020)


Check out our auctions with similar lots.