Saturday 29 February 2020

The Accidental Jacket

“The Accidental Jacket” includes a new series of paintings that anticipates Pratik Ghaisas’s playful studies of personal identity; he delivers a deeply felt experience of human absence in a new installation of exquisite subtlety. Each work is meticulously crafted to its own emotional note. Beautiful and rich in associative resonance, the piece eviscerates abstraction and lodges right in the bones. Between the moments of tenderness and the undertow of anguish, the form pulsates with the full spectrum of human emotion. Circling its exterior, its outermost arm forming a closed ring, we’re barred from entering; we become empathic onlookers of the whole human drama.
 Artist : Pratik Ghaisas

Artists of the previous generation, the Pop painters and Minimalists, who came of age in the 1960s, defined the unity of their concerns by creating distinctive visual styles a Warhol, like a Lichtenstein or a Donald Judd, is unmistakably their personal product. What links these visually varied early works together is what might best be called a consciously eccentric poetic sensibility, his irony-laced fascination with unexpected sensory pleasures. One basic, longstanding rule governing the visual arts is that pictures and words tell stories in essentially different ways, and so should not be mixed together. That the human mind can conceive of a nothing as a something is an extraordinary feat of intellectual abstraction.

Gazing down across the form suggestive of our galactic home, we’re led to consider our predicament in the universe. Bound inside time, acutely aware of our own smallness and finitude and yet feeling ourselves and those we love to be as large as the world, we live in eternal incongruity with our indifferent cosmos. The economy of means with which Ghaisas is able to evoke such ultimate questions is remarkable. Indeed, his use of a metonymically implied personal space to conjure the universal charges, the work with the kind of condensed expression we expect of great poetry. The human mind may be able to grasp negation between the abstract and the reasoning faculty founders when it comes to its own. Perhaps it’s only with the language of poetry that we can think the unthinkable and, if not exactly accept the unacceptable, dare to feel the flame in all its intensity.

Though there all along, the issue of using a shaped support came into particular focus during the 1960s as an emphasis on both the painting as object, its unnecessary privileging of easel painting and ultimately the expendability of using only a single rectangle. In the current series the artist brings together and explores the possibilities of a shaped support as an optional formal development. But gone today are the conscious strictures and aesthetic divisions articulated in 1967 by Michael Fried in his germinal essay ‘Art and Object Hood’. There are works here that evince playfulness or Dada disregard for convention, as well as a compositional exuberance of both materials and pictorial forms that ultimately set an overall shape. That is to say they find shape by an excessive build up of material itself, or in working with one form or another, leaving those shapes to define an external perimeter edge.

The artist narrates how his father and his contemporaries were responsible for building audacious and imaginative meccas of free play, in particular that exceeded even the best paradigms. Examining the pictorial thinking of outsiders often takes a back seat to the thrill of rescuing overlooked objects from history. An excitement that is fueled by a perhaps unconscious nostalgia for artistic sincerity is elicited by work that often bears a coincidental visual relationship to modernism but is untainted by modernism’s worldly ambition. This is not really the case with Pratik Ghaisas. The correspondence to mainstream art in his work is not superficial. The diligence and concentration that he brought to his work are qualities of many mainstream artists, and tells us a lot about what it means to be an artist. As an artist, he exists on a twentieth century continuum. Art has historically been forged in solitude, and though it is tempting to romanticize it, his solitude, while deeper than that of most artists, fueled a quiet passion that is evident in the mood and intensity of the work and beyond its psychological concerns, these jackets tell a dynamic story that change with each subsequent viewing.

Abhijeet Gondkar
March 2020, Mumbai

Visible Invisible

solo exhibition
by Pratik Ghaisas

2nd March To 8th March
11AM To 7 PM

Jehangir Art Gallery

Inauguration on 2nd March at 5pm.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

'Being and Sense- Akbar Padamsee at the JNAF', at 6pm, 27th February 2020, at the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation.

Dear Friends, 

We are delighted to invite you to a talk by Rohit Goel, titled, 'Being and Sense- Akbar Padamsee at the JNAF', at 6pm, 27th February 2020, at the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation. 

In this talk, Rohit Goel will explore the philosophical leanings in Akbar Padamsee's work. 
He will present an argument about Akbar Padamsee's artwork on display amidst the current exhibition at the JNAF, Akbar Padamsee: A Tribute. Building on a reading of Padamsee's existentialism - his work as depiction of 'being-in-itself' - Rohit sees Padamsee's oeuvre as an ongoing struggle to find a position between existence and thought, a painstaking search for a medium of 'being' and 'sense'.

We look forward to seeing you at the talk in the JNAF gallery, CSMVS on 27th February. Tea will be served at 5.30pm, followed by the talk at 6pm. 

Warm regards,
Puja Vaish
Director, JNAF

Monday 24 February 2020

Padamsee, an Eternal Student

On 7th January 2020, the Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari presented the first ‘Vasudeo Gaitonde Kala Jeevan Puraskar’ (Life Time Achievement Award in the Field of Art) to Late Akbar Padamsee (posthumously) at the 60th Maharashtra State Art Exhibition held at Jehangir Art Gallery. An evening earlier, Akbar Padamsee passed away at the Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore. He was excited when he heard of receiving the award that was dedicated to him in the name of his artist friend Vasudeo Gaitonde who was his senior by few years at Sir J. J.  School of Art.
Born on April 12, 1928, Padamsee’s ancestors hailed from Vāghnagar, a village in the Bhavnagar district of the erstwhile Kathiawar, now part of Gujarat. His grandfather was the sarpanch of the village and earned the title Padmashree or Padamsee after distributing his entire granary to the village during a famine. The family had belonged to Charana community, known as Deviputras (sons of the goddess). Charanas were essentially litterateurs and folklorist. Youngest amongst eight siblings, Akbar, as a child, stayed aloof and preferred to amuse himself with books. He also displayed an ardent interest in art that developed through photographs of gods and goddesses his nanny shared with him. The antique Irani furniture and flower vases that adorned his home also inspired him. At the age of four, he took to drawing in the margins of the account books and ledgers at his father’s shop of imported glass lanterns on Chakla Street, South Mumbai. In his primary school, he would draw caricatures on the black board before the class teacher would arrive, when the teacher would enquire, the classmates would point out to Padamsee, but she would never believe that such a young boy’s drawings had a mature finesse.
Akbar Padamsee

He was 11 years old when he accidentally stepped on a rusted nail, leading to a serious injury. While the wound was cured, the psychological impact left him speechless. It was more the will to speak that had gone away. Apparently, he did not speak a word for about nine years. Instead, he focused his energies on reading and art. After his father passed away, his elder brother Nicky (Nurudin), eight years his senior served as a father figure and gave him a book on Freud’s Introductory Lectures on psychoanalysis, dream interpretations and the psychopathology of everyday life. Not quite realizing what it was about, it was like tasting in advance what was going to come. Padamsee reciprocated with the writings of philosophers like Heidegger, Sartre and the likes; he believed that thinking was a system before one could paint. The influence of this can be seen in his later works. He chose to study at Sir J.J. School of Art, but Nicky advised him to join St. Xavier’s High School. At St. Xavier’s High School, Fort, he had a very strange school life. He was a back-bencher and day-dreamer who was always ridiculed by his classmates over his speech impediment. During school examinations, his elder brother helped him study, and somehow saved him from the kind of education that was doled out in those schools. Later, he met his first mentor, drawing teacher Shirsat, a water colourist, who tutored him in the medium, wines in Khandala, and nudes at a special class at Charni Road, in preparation for his studies at the Sir J. J. School of Art, enabling him to join the course directly in its third year.

 Poster done by M.F. Husain for Padamsee's Metascape show at Pundole,1975

Padamsee’s years at the art school came at a time when a lot of undercurrents were passing through the Indian Art world, the most important being the formation of the Progressive Artist Group. He learned the academic style of painting that was popular in those times but did not restrict himself to just that. Even as a young adult, he enthusiastically learnt what was beyond the norm. He would skip classes and spend hours in the college library, pouring over books and acquainting himself with the work of the Masters. He was more interested in the science of art inspired by formal conundrums and conceptual schemes in approaching his work and would often investigate Durer’s drawings, Piero della Francesca’s studies for the curve of a queen’s neck – he had made a complex grid as if it were for a bridge. One day, he found T.A. Gopinath Rao’s Elements of Hindu Iconography in the library and was amazed by the precise directions that were given to the bronze sculptors. It was later at the school of art that he used the concept of the grid as geometry of proportion; however, it was at the elementary level. He also read a book on principles of Chinese painting. However, it was only later that he developed these ideas further .Of his early days spent at Sir J. J. School of Art, he once claimed: “In those days, learning painting in that tree-studded campus was a heady experience”. Professor Shankar Palshikar introduced him to miniature paintings and burnishing the surface with cowrie shell to spread the color evenly to get a glaze effect, but Padamsee would be lazy to do it all by himself. His early work during that year started with detailed study of heads, prophets and different couples. Padamsee’s subjects appeared astute with a pondering gaze. He disliked the sentimental and refused to submerge his figures with that feeling. This is why; even when he portrays his nude protagonists, they lack any outward sensuality. Padamsee studied French and his art teacher, Shankar Palsikar, encouraged him to study Sanskrit, which later became the basis of Padamsee’s thought process and the foundational structure for his art.

Head, 11x9 in.  pencil on paper, 2000

After his completing his diploma in painting, he took up sculpture for a year; one afternoon, when he was rhythmically beating the sheet metal with a hammer to make a relief sculpture. In the adjacent studio, another professor called Sabannavar, from the metal-craft department, was busy with his work. Suddenly, he barged into Padamsee’s space and asked him to stop work. The cause of the professor’s anger was the sound that the artist was producing while beating the sheet. He knew from the sound that Padamsee was doing something wrong. He asked Padamsee if he was disturbed, to which Padamsee replied with a yes. Padamsee was thus sensitized to the importance of sound in art-making. Later, he would apply this lesson an accidental insight to his pictorial practice. In an interview with Homi Bhabha, he recalls: “The professor’s interpretation intrigued me and I decided to experiment with sound. I took a very heavy aluminum holder in which I inserted a felt pen. I then dipped it in ink and started hitting on my drawing paper stretched on the board, really hard. Next, I tried this on my charcoal and oil works on canvas board and had a whole show around these works. I was going by the sound. Finally, an image would emerge, and it was often said that I painted with dots, but in reality I was painting with sound.”

Padamsee was a student associate, not a formal member, of the Progressive Artist Group, founded by F.N. Souza, with Raza and M.F. Husain as members, among others, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship. He along with Tyeb Mehta helped in installing works of the Progessives and other seniors like Mohan Samant. His father had a cyclostyle machine, with which he made copies of a catalogue of the show the Progressives had put up. That probably made him a blue-eyed boy. Later in 1948, an exhibition of paintings of student artists comprising of fifty artworks was organized by the Progressive Artist Group and was shown at the Bombay Art Society’s Salon. Francis Newton Souza, the then Secretary of the Progressive Artist Group said the exhibition was a novel idea and intended to draw attention of the public and art critics  to the works of art students. Padamsee’s paintings were highly appreciated by the art critics.

Nude, 11x14.5 in. pencil on paper, 2007

In 1950, a former student visited the school of art and showed interest in the works of the students. The senior was S.H. Raza. Padamsee told Raza that he was given third-class. Raza said he should have gotten a first-class with this work. Raza had received a scholarship to go to Paris and offered to take him along. Padamsee shared the news with Palshikar, who said he should see India first; next Padamsee brought himself a ticket to Madurai and visited the Meenakshi temple. Later in 1951 along with Raza he sailed to France, where Padamsee met the surrealist Stanley Hayter and started painting at a local studio, Atelier 17, and held his first show at Galerie Saint Placide in 1952. His first exhibition in Paris, which required artists to stay anonymous, saw Padamsee sharing the prize awarded for it by the French Journal d’Arte with the surrealist Carzou, then in his 40s. Thus began a never ending journey of honours and awards. He was featured in the 1959 Tokyo Biennale, he received a gold medal from the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1962 A fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation in New York followed in 1965, and in 1969 the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, he was bestowed by Padma Bhushan and Kailash Lalit Kala award in 2010. His figurative works from the 1950s gave way to bronze heads the human expression was a lifelong preoccupation of Padamsee to photography. Exhibitions have been held at institutions worldwide, including the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and London’s Royal Academy of Art.
Padamsee always approached his art with deep thought and intense focus, constantly pushing boundaries and innovating in his creative process. During his illustrious career, Padamsee explored a wide range of mediums, and managed to remain fiercely experimental and individualistic. His artistic oeuvre is a formal exploration of a few chosen genres — prophets, heads, couples, still-life, grey works, metascapes, mirror-images and tertiaries, across a multitude of media oil painting, plastic emulsion, water colour, sculpture, printmaking, computer graphics, films and photography. His early portraits and landscapes in varied mediums of painting, drawing and etching demonstrate a quasi-spiritual style of working. His oils have been characterised by a deep intensity and luminescence while his drawings exude a serene grace.

Akbar Padamsee has always been eclectic, drawing his inspiration from various sources. He spoke at length about the western and eastern philosophy, be it Paul Klee’s The Thinking Eye or Mammata’s Kavyaprakasha. He was on board with anything that helped him give an adequate structure to his own art. Never one up for an easy summing up of art, his work continues to take the viewers through an intense journey unmasking the mysteries of art, through his work and life.
Quoting Padamsee’s favourite line from the Isa Upanishad, there’s formlessness about great poetry that moves you. Addressing the sun, the speaker says, ‘Remove the glare, so that I can look at you face-to-face because I’m the very person that’s yonder; I’m the sun myself. When the heat of the sun reaches me, let the body be reduced to ashes; but may the mind remember, remember, remember… Om shanti, shanti, shanti…’

Abhijeet Gondkar
February 2020, Mumbai

(Abhijeet Gondkar is an independent writer and curator based in Mumbai. The above extracts are from inputs by Bhanumati Padamsee, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation and further readings of Padamsee’s conversation with Homi Bhabha published by Marg. The above article was published as a tribute to Akbar Padamsee in ‘Roopa-Bheda’ 2019-20, an annual publication of Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai)

Thursday 20 February 2020


115, Jamshedji Tata Road, 1st Floor, Above Satyam Collection, Next to Eros Cinema, Churchgate 400020
Mumbai, India.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Hallucinatory Beauty - Abhijeet Gondkar

Rajesh Salgaonkar’s new body of work is a series that comes from his stay at his London studio. Living in London he missed Goa as much every day, he would do a small watercolor, ink rendering which later grew to bigger sheets the size he needed to portray his entire surroundings at the same intimate level of detail. In one way or another, he was always drawing his world, from the optical scatter of woman, birds and fishes. He came to embrace a self-sufficient tautology which all artists understand in their own way, but few with such clarity of purpose.

Recent work by Rajesh Salgaonkar

The erasure, for the most part, of the elements as the space they left behind was liquidly unfolded and deciphered, induced a psychologically potent side effect. Their absence allows the viewer to enter archetypal precincts, through ambiguous outlines in dreamy blank spaces where scenarios of love, memory are enacted forever, just as he did with drawings of his immediate surroundings, one piece of paper folding under, a new one gluing on until the drawing came to rest.  A consummate painter, Salgaonkar’s painterly surfaces appear to breath color. They inhale and exhale color-spaces, made by a remarkable range of thick or thin, fat or lean, brushed or wiped marks on works of paper that needed the resistance of a solid wall behind it. Surprisingly, Salgaonkar’s whole enterprise is dependent on its beginning: specifically, the graphic translation of his first possession of a moment, a moment both poignant to him as being a potential painting, and a personal incident or experience.

It is in these drawings that the artist commits to paper his obsession with content and color through a myriad of diverse marks. His hand was observed to move rapidly over the surface of drawing paper, the small stub of a soft pencil hidden by his large hands. It was as though his pencil’s point was his eye taking in the significant data.  These drawings allow access to spaces where it would have been almost impossible to take and it is when we think about our own space as viewer in his paintings that we are rewarded with a surprise of location, the deep space is flattened, near forms are volumetric, and the negative spaces operate as both flat and spatial simultaneously. For Salgaonkar drawing is sensation, and taking possession of the image. The next step is the translation of these notations into color, not local color, but the color that comes from his interior logic. The sensation and its perceptual basis change mysteriously into the concept or the idea of color. The painting uses localized color as a springboard to a far more unique and surprising equivalent. Reflected color often plays a significant role. It is the color in these shadows, rather than the color in the light that depicts Salgaonkar’s highly original color variants and ensembles.

One comes to realize that reality and fiction flip everywhere in Salgaonkar’s work. As for the artist’s encyclopedic works of his immediate surroundings, they trade on the traditional fictions of life in the way that disjunctive local spaces and times are fused under a continuous skin of illusion. Yet it is life drawings very much in the tradition of that genre, for all their annotated eccentricities that increasingly come to occupy Salgaonkar’s watercolor masterpieces featuring the, maximal challenges for the artists’ ever-sharpening ability to see and describe. Using careful layers of translucent watercolor, he could now capture the waxy glistening of dolphins, parrots and peacocks and as one grasps the combination of flatness, space, and light in Salgaonkar’s watercolors, the subtleties of his sophisticated palette and tonal gradations reveal a seductive luminosity.  Through this examination one’s mind empties out, leaving oneself in a contemplative state.  Or perhaps better put, one becomes fully engaged in the moment peering simply into the painting’s surface while marveling at the unique and nuanced light held by each work.
Abhijeet Gondkar

February 2020, Mumbai

Nippon Gallery
30/32, 2nd Floor, Deval Chambers,
Nanabhai Lane, Flora Fountain, Fort,
Mumbai – 400 001India.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

PIN POSTER: Art Gate Gallery


115, Jamshedji Tata Road, 1st Floor, Above Satyam Collection, Next to Eros Cinema, Churchgate 400020
Mumbai, India.

Saturday 1 February 2020

AMBEDKAR AS CULTURE, which will be published by Panther’s Paw Publication in June, 2020.

Ambedkar as Culture
We are glad and excited to announce the first workshop of Ambedkar Literature Factory. For this residential workshop, we are inviting ten applications from dalit-bahujan writers, scholars and artists. In this workshop, we intend to produce the work (research articles, long essays, and illustrative works) on themes given below. After the completion of the workshop, all the works produced by the participants, will be compiled in a form of a book, entitled AMBEDKAR AS CULTURE, which will be published by Panther’s Paw Publication in June, 2020.

Broader themes on which the work must be produced (these are the suggested themes but not limited).
Ambedkar in music| Ambedkar in literature |Ambedkar in poetry |Ambedkar as fashion| Ambedkar in art | Ambedkar in philosophy | Ambedkar in sociology |Ambedkar in cinema | Ambedkar in politics | Ambedkar and feminism | Ambedkar and religion |
If you are interested in attending and contributing to the workshop and subsequently to the book, please send us your abstract write-up (700 words) exploring around aforementioned themes to the following email id.
Email id: Or whatsapp here: 9987133931
WORKSHOP DATE: 20th MARCH to 26 MARCH,, 2020.
VENUE: Madhyam Marg Retreat Centre, Kondanpur, Pune.
CONTRIBUTION: 2800/- Rs (it includes, lodging and food -breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea and snacks for two times. It also includes the travel from Pune to the venue, back and forth)
Cover art: Siddhesh Gautam