Akbar Padamsee: Lithographs

Akbar Padamsee has not been a keen practitioner of self-portraits unlike many of the great modernists including Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, etc. in the West and Rabindranath Tagore, Souza, Hussain and Amrita Shergill in India. While staying within modernity’s engagement with subjectivity and self and engaging with questions like ‘What are you?’ and ‘What am I?’, Padamsee in a distinct move, devises a new visual idiom in which he creates fictional faces to absorb the modernist crisis, rather than resorting to self-representation. This is a radical departure from the existing canon. Padamsee’s does not offer answers to these questions, but rather withdraws himself, with humility enough to acknowledge the metaphysical profoundness of these queries. The ascetic in him exits with grace and composure in search of ‘the other side of solitude’.

‘Heads’ embody a simple visual idiom. They are monochromatic with basic line drawings, at times darkened by bold strokes. A certain volume is rendered by the use of chiaroscuro. Most of them avoid any gender or religious references. They are characterised by brooding, self-reflexive, and thoughtful postures, with a restrained poise. They appear to conceal something from the viewers. Their stares are blank and mostly directed downwards which makes it difficult for us to guess their emotional state. These nameless faces emerge out of the surface as haunting figures with a disturbing history. Padamsee does not name his heads. They are unknown, fictional figures existing only in the creative recesses of his mind.


28 Feb - 3 Apr 2013


Akbar Padamsee


Photography, Lithographs