Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

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Property from a Private Collection, Buffalo, New York

Akbar Padamsee


Auction Closed

October 26, 03:08 PM GMT


70,000 - 90,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection, Buffalo, New York

Akbar Padamsee

1928 - 2020


Oil on canvas

Signed and dated 'Padamsee / 56' upper left

41.6 x 27.3 cm. (16 ⅜ x 10 ¾ in.)

Painted in 1956

Acquired in New York, circa 2020

 "...colours expand and contrast, colours travel on the surface of the static painting... colour trajectory is strategy... A colourist needs to master the art of silencing some colours, so as to render others eloquent."

- Akbar Padamsee

(India: Myth and Reality, Aspects of Modern Indian Art, Museum of Modern ArtOxford, 1982, p. 17)

This early and luminous landscape by Akbar Padamsee demonstrates the artist's mastery of minimalist geometric forms and his exceptional understanding of colour relationships. Painted in rich, jewel-like hues, this enchanting cluster of houses and spires stands in a shadowy landscape against a dark orange sky, its horizon demarcated by a fiery red line. The dramatic contrast between the dark background and the incandescent colours of the buildings gives this cityscape an other-worldly quality, with the tallest spire in the cluster piercing the horizon. The sensation is, however, partly rooted in reality, recalling the contrast of deep shade and golden light as the last of the sun hits a city at sunset.

The current lot is from a brief period in the mid-1950s where Padamsee rendered small-scale landscapes in vibrant geometric planes of color, sometimes referred to us as the 'Horizon series'. The antecedent for these works lay in Padamsee’s encounter in Paris with the paintings of Paul Klee and Goethe’s color theory, both of which left a deep impact on him. This, coupled with his meetings and exchanges with artists like Giacometti and Man Ray imbued his paintings with a strong surrealist tone, as seen in the present work. 

Padamsee's paintings from the mid-1950s are also charming and distinct precursors to the comprehensive city scenes of the artist's 'Grey Period' (1959-60). A vivid palette took precedence again in Padamsee's work in his later Metascapes, which dominated his artistic production from the 1970s, but arguably it is in the early, perfectly-formed landscapes such as this 1956 work, that Padamsee's use of colour is at its most radiant. Despite its modest scale the painting has a lasting, monumental impact.