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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, BRAZIL

Akbar Padamsee
(b. 1928)
PROPHET I
JUMP TO LOT
19

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, BRAZIL

Akbar Padamsee
(b. 1928)
PROPHET I
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art

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London

Akbar Padamsee
(b. 1928)
PROPHET I
Signed and dated 'Padamsee / 52' upper left
Oil on board
90 by 58.2 cm (35 ⅜ by 22 ⅞ in.)
Painted in 1952
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist in 1954 by Professor Nicolas Gyenes, a patron of the arts who lived in Paris during the 1950s and 60s

Given to the current owner in 1968 before Professor Gyenes left Paris for Canada

Literature

Shamlal, Padamsee, Sadanga Series, Vakils & Sons Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, 1964, p.12 illus.

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.

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1952, Prophet I represents a pivotal moment in Akbar Padamsee's early career. He had moved to Paris in 1951, and was reunited with his artistic compatriots, Sayed Haider Raza and Francis Newton Souza, two founding members of the influential Progressive Artists’ Group. Padamsee received no formal training whilst in Paris but drew his inspiration from his extensive study of the works of art he saw in the galleries and museums there. He was influenced not only by the Modern masters; Picasso, Rouault, Braque and Chagall but also by tribal works of art and in particular the African masks that he saw in the Musée de l'homme. Padamsee combined this firsthand exposure to various artistic sources, with a continuous exchange of ideas and art practice between himself, Souza and Raza. The trio held their first group exhibition at the Galerie Saint Placide in 1952 to great acclaim, and later that year Padamsee received an award from the celebrated surrealist André Breton on behalf of the Journale d’Art. The following year all three artists exhibited at Galerie Raymond Creuze, one of the largest galleries in Paris. While working closely with Raza and Souza, and allowing avant-garde influences to pervade his work, this period resulted in some of the most iconic works that Padamsee has made.

'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.

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art

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London