Akbar Padamsee

Searching for the present, where?  
Being - becoming in Akbar Padamsee’s figurations (1995 - 2006)

Curated by Srajana Kaikini

The Guild, Alibaug

6 August until 25 September 2021
10.00 am to 6.30 pm
(open all days)


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Searching for the present, where?  
Being - becoming in Akbar Padamsee’s figurations (1995 - 2006)

Curated by Srajana Kaikini 

The Guild is delighted to announce the opening of its latest exhibition at the Alibaug Gallery – a solo exhibition of photographs and drawings by eminent modernist artist Akbar Padamsee (1928-2020). The exhibition is titled, Searching for the present, where? Being - becoming in Akbar Padamsee’s figurations (1995 - 2006) and is curated by Dr. Srajana Kaikini.  

This is the first major exhibition dedicated to photography and drawings by the artist in India after his demise early last year at the age of 91. “Searching for the present, where?...”  is drawn from The Guild and some important private collections. The exhibition is a tribute to Padamsee’s commendable contribution to the Indian art. This is also the first time the photographs and drawings spanning from over a decade are contextualised in an exhibition form. Padamsee’s previous exhibition of photographs at The Guild was in 2006, titled, Akbar Padamsee, Photographs 2004-2006.  

The exhibition celebrates Padamsee’s cognitive pondering of body as form. Curator Srajana Kaikini delicately brings in art historical and philosophical discourses around human form and representation while delving into varied dimensions of artist’s practice.  

“These series of drawings and photographs speak about the body as a place of being and becoming. These are figurations, subjects set in motion. In this world view of the self, perhaps social signifiers like clothes, location, context and thinking of the body singularly may be perceived superfluous. Embodiment of the self, here, is presupposed.  The interest is, therefore, to look for when and where these embodiments become present to us. While some drawings bring to us glimpses from other selves - lives enmeshed in sanchaari bhaavas (fleeting emotions), the photographic images speak in their own language trying to grow from the moment captured into new kinds of beings, creating their own sthaayi bhaavas (foundational emotions). They are not so much abstract as they are intentional – they need us to speak to them, for them to speak to us.”

(Excerpt from the Curatorial note by Srajana Kaikini) 

Akbar Padamsee was born in Mumbai in 1928. He received his art education at Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai and later in 1951 he went to live and work in France, accompanying artist friend S. H. Raza. His first show was held with Raza and Souza at Gallerie Saint Placide in 1952 and a two-person show with Raza, Indian Painters in Paris, in 1953. Padamsee was awarded a gold medal from the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1962, and he went on to receive a fellowship from the J.D. Rockefeller Foundation in 1965. After his return to India in around 1967, he received the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship funds he set up inter-art Vision Exchange Workshop (VIEW) in 1967, a platform for artists and filmmakers.  

Padamsee has extensively exhibited his works in numerous exhibitions in India and abroad. His major solo exhibition are: The Body Unbound, Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2011-12); Sensitive Surfaces, Galerie Helene Lamarque, Paris (2008); Metascape to Humanscape, Aicon Gallery, New York (2006); Imaging Gandhi, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai (1997); Heads, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore (1993); Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal (1997), among several others. Padamsee participated in important museum exhibitions and Biennales that include, Venice (1953, 1955); Sao Paulo and Tokyo (1959); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1981); Royal Academy of Arts, London (1982) and National des Arts Plastiques, Paris (1985). His other important exhibitions include, S.H. RAZA & AKBAR PADAMSEE: Yugma III, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2020); A Life Less Ordinary, Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi (2015); Crossings: Time Unfolded, Part 2, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi (2012); Black and White, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai (2010); Shadow Lines, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2006); Drawings, Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (1998); Contemporary Indian Painters, Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, organized by Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai (1984); Seven Indian Painters, Gallery One, London (1958); In the year 1980, a retrospective of his work was organized by the Art Heritage Gallery, in Mumbai and New Delhi.

Akbar Padamsee was awarded the Padama Bhushan by the government of India in 2010. His other awards are: Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1997. Other awards include the Lalit Kala Ratna Puraskar in 2004, the Dayawati Modi Award in 2007, Roopdha award by Bombay Art Society - 2008 and Kailash Lalit Kala award in the year 2010.

He passed away in January 2020 in Coimbatore, leaving behind an artistic legacy for the generations to come.

Dr Srajana Kaikini works transdisciplinarily across curatorial, artistic and philosophical grounds. She received her PhD in Philosophy from Manipal Centre for Humanities, and did her Masters in Arts and Aesthetic from JNU. She was at de Appel Art Centre’s Curatorial Programme in 2012-13, is the recipient of 2013 FICA Research Fellowship and was Curator at KK Hebbar Gallery and Arts Centre (2015-2019) at Manipal. Her recent curatorial projects include Backstage of Biology (2019), at Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, Mukhaputa (2017) at the KK Hebbar Gallery and Arts Centre and Vectors of Kinship (2016) at the 11th Shanghai Biennale. She has been resident curator at the Delfina Foundation, London and the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York and is a regular contributor to writing platforms on philosophy and aesthetics. Her academic writing has been published in journals such as Ethical Perspectives, Voices in Bioethics, Deleuze and Guattari Studies, Kunstlicht, Journal for Cancer Research and Therapeutics amidst others. She is on the Editorial Boards of SciPhiWeb Repository of Reflections on Science, Philosophy and Gaming and Barefoot Philosophers. She is presently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences at Krea University, India. 



About The Guild

The Guild was established in 1997 with an aim to function as a semi-institutional space within the bustling art-hub of Mumbai, India. Since its inception, it has been providing a platform for discursive practices, innovation and experimentation in contemporary art. The Guild has been recognised as a pioneering gallery with its important roster of artists of diverse generations who have brought in robust dialogue within and across the disciplines. It believes in promoting critical ideas and artists who are engaged in cutting-edge practices in distinctive mediums reflecting diverse perspectives. The Gallery has held major retrospectives of important artists:  Sudhir Patwardhan, Navjot Altaf and G. R. Iranna. It has collaborated with premier national art centres and has been promoting its artists to various international cultural institutions, art fairs through exhibitions, residencies and workshops.
For over two decades The Guild has nurtured artistic production as well as the curatorial practices in India. It has contributed extensive scholarship on contemporary art through academically and critically rigorous publications authored by well-known academicians, art critics, art historians and artists – on artists and their practices. The range of public outreach programmes is integral to the exhibitions hosted by the gallery.  In 2015, The Guild opened its new premises in Alibaug, an upcoming art district near Mumbai with a large exhibition space, expanding its relevance outside the urban spaces, and continues to vigorously serve the field of visual arts in India.

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