Given to the current owner in 1968 before Professor Gyenes left Paris for Canada
G. Kapur, Contemporary Indian Artists, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1978, pl. 30, illus
M. Jakimowicz, Akbar Padamsee: Works on Paper – Critical Boundaries, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2004, p.6 illus.
B. Padamsee and A. Garimella ed., Akbar Padamsee, Work in Language, Marg Publications in association with Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2010, pp. 6,118 illus.
'From the very start of his career as an artist Padamsee has cut out all element of make-believe in presenting the image of man. What characterises this image in his work is not merely the mark that suffering has left on it... Padamsee's image of man is free of all pathos, sentimentality, nostalgia and even compassion. It is as if he wants us to see that what man needs is not pity but understanding... The suffering in his image of man is not the one which is the lot of the poor and the halt. It is rather the suffering which is the lot of every man - the suffering that is inherent in the human condition (Shamlal, Padamsee, Sadanga Series, Vakils & Sons Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, 1964, p.6).
This painting is the first from the artist's famous prophet series. 'All that Padamsee’s ‘prophets’ starting with the one with a cadmium yellow face know is their past and the shadow it casts on their future. And all that they have seen face to face is themselves. If they have any prophecy to make it is that there is no defence against the ravages of time and no escape from despair.' (ibid.)
Padamsee’s prophet series evolved with each edition; art critics Geeta Kapur and Shamlal both observe the visible transformation in each member of the series as they begin to resemble conventional bearded and authoritative forms of their 'portentous' name-sakes. (G. Kapur, “The Other Side of Solitude” Akbar Padamsee, Work in Language. B. Padamsee and A.Garimella ed., Marg Publications and Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2010).
This is not only a formative painting from the artist's oeuvre and has been published in several books on the artist, but it is the first time this work has come to the market, having been in private hands since it was created in 1952. The painting was acquired directly from Padamsee in 1954 by Professor Nicolas Gyenes, a patron of the arts who lived in Paris during the 1950s and 60s. Whilst in Paris, Gyenes became aquainted with Padamsee, Souza and Raza and went on to introduce the artists to the parents of the current owner, who owned the Hotel Claude Bernard where Gyenes resided. When Gyenes moved to Saskatchewan, Canada in 1968, he gave this remarkable painting to the current owner, in whose collection it has since remained.
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