In Memoriam | Akbar Padamsee

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of one of South Asia’s eminent artists, Akbar Padamsee.

One of the primary figures of Indian art, he made a career defined by free-thinking, experimentation and individuality. He worked on a wide variety of media but focused on a few chosen genres including prophets, heads, couples, still-life, grey works, metascapes and mirror images.

In his passing, he left behind a stellar legacy of masterpieces from his almost seven-decade long career. But shall always be remembered as one of the greats who put Indian art into the world stage and shattered preconceived notions of what Indian art should be and could be.

Relentless and dedicated to his craft until the end, he candidly said in one of his last interviews, “It is not possible to master the art of painting in such a short lifetime. I have been a painter in my past births and I am continuing the tradition.”

ARTIANA – F.N. Souza Works on Paper Auction | Auction Results

Our recently concluded Francis Newton Souza Works on Paper auction was a success, with 62% of the lots sold and USD 173,400 total sales.

For the complete auction result and analysis, please visit www.artiana.com.

Thank you for your bids! 

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 50 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Untitled (Flying Angel) – 1993 – acrylic on paper – 14.75 x 21.5 in. (37.6 x 54.6 cm.)

The current lot is reminiscent of the artist’s ‘Figures in Landscape, Freeport, Bahamas’ which was painted in 1971 and evokes the feeling of enjoying under the sun and lazing on the beach. F.N. Souza used bright sunlit colors to portray a sense of lightness that is so dissimilar from his usual and dark palette choices. Aside from the uncharacteristic palette choice, the picture appears to have been executed perfunctorily without much attention to details of the figure.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 46 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Souza routinely came back to his favorite motifs throughout his career. A recurrent theme of his works was the conflicts in man-woman relationships with an emphasis on sexual tension and friction, as seen in the current image executed in 1974. 

Untitled (1974) -pen and ink on paper – 10.75 x 7.75 in. (27.1 x 19.9 cm.)

In the drawing, he was able to maintain an excellent economy on his use of line while still managing to capture fine details. He employed an abundance of detailing, which made up the overall structure of his subjects. Disfigured and malformed, this image of a couple was part of the ‘mutant’ studies that Souza did in conjecture with nuclear warfare in what he predicted as the eventual downfall of man.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 43 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Untitled (1972) – chemical alterations on paper – 13.25 x 10.25 in. (33.4 x 26.2 cm.)

After Souza left London in 1967, he lived in New York, where he continued to experiment with new ways of creating landscapes and figurative works. His painting in the following decades included uniquely rendered chemical drawings that demonstrate color palettes of vivid hues, as seen in the current image.

Souza’s women were frankly sexual and shockingly exposed themselves. In each of his works, they become more and more voluptuous, and all the more revealing and sordid. Conversely, his women are awe-inspiring in their unabashed display and ownership of their sexuality, yet on the flip side is Souza’s belief in women as objects of sexual gratification.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 40 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Untitled (1993) – acrylic on paper – 11.5 x 17.5 in. (29 x 44.4 cm.) 

The genre of the landscape was a cornerstone of F.N. Souza’s oeuvres as much as his scathing portraits and nudes. Like many of his works, he articulates his particular brand of imagery in them exhibiting an uncompromising commitment to his inner muse. 

The present lot, painted in 1993, two decades after his move from London to New York, encapsulates a particularly joyful period in the life of the artist. Souza’s painting style from previous decades evolved, becoming looser, slightly abstracted, and full of bright colors. He produced works depicting nature and flowery images using colorful pigments that evoke a carefree and light atmosphere. Repeatedly emphasizing nature being the sole principle – a tenet of “Redmonism,” the colors that he concocted seem almost to rival those of life itself. Here, the limits of the picture plane are disregarded; the leaves break off into a sea of green, and branches like vines appear in the foreground as a means to create perspective. 

Souza’s landscapes are ultimately lyrical with unrestrained enthusiasm in the application of colors. The effects of the vibrant and gestural color schemes belong to a world of memories captured in the richness of Souza’s vision.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

ARTIANA – Highlights – Lot 21 – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – Online Auction – No Buyer’s Premium – 5-9 December 2019

Religion may be the root and theme of many of Souza’s work, but it was also his compulsion. It played an integral part in his art, along with another of his obsession, which was female nudity. The fact that Souza was so bitterly critical of the Catholic Church yet so obsessed with making dozens of images around biblical themes was so indicative of the tremendous mental anguish he endured. 

Untitled (Head of Christ) – 1989 – ink on paper -10.5 x 8.25 in. (26.8 x 20.8 cm.)

A true iconoclast, he paid no reverence in the depiction of Jesus, the core of the Christian religion; instead, he portrayed him just using his signature strong blacklines without any colors, embellishments, pomp, or details associated with religious establishments. Even the expression reflected is that of sadness or hardship, basing from Souza’s whole theological position and convictions of suffering without redemption.

Souza made his mark as a profound artist by producing visually intense and often disturbing works. With his exceptional skills, he disturbed accepted notions of aesthetics and jolted stereotypical perceptions about religion, sin, and oppressive political orders, which he depicted in many of his art.

Auction Catalogue – F.N. Souza Works on Paper – The Ravi and Uma Jain Collection – 5 – 9 December 2020

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Remembering the Master

M.F. Husain, one of the great artists that came from India, was born on September 17, 1915. Known as the painter of the people, he is celebrated for his exceptional yet sometimes controversial works that deeply embody the Indian aesthetics and made him popular and relatable to people from all walks of life. His themes too are Indian; from the great epics (the Mahabharata and the Ramayana) to Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the British Raj, to the motifs of Indian urban and rural life. His memorable works reflected the life of an artist that is as vibrant and spirited as his canvases.

Through his career, he enjoyed great popularity and reverence that earned him the moniker ‘The Barefoot Picasso of Indian Art’ attributed to his style which reflected influence from Pablo Picasso and his atypical characteristic of foregoing footwear no matter the occasion or the establishment.

As a tribute to the master on his birthday, here are 10 things to know more about M.F. Husain:

1. His exact birthday is unknown but as a general belief, he was born on the 17th of September 1915; a date that he thought of when he applied for a passport on 1950 for the first time without having proof of his birth date.

2. He started his art career painting cinema hoardings for six annas (1/16th of a rupee) each in 1930. Working on these huge hoardings helped him use space effectively and to paint quickly and boldly on large surfaces. He also took up designing and painting nursery furniture and toys to make a living before becoming a full-time artist.

3. He sold his first painting for Rs 10 in his first show in 1934. To date, his works fetch top dollars; his most priced work sold for USD 1.6 million at an auction in 2008.

4. An extremely prolific artist, his works are estimated to be in the thousands nearing to 40,000. It is said that at one point in his career, he was producing as much as 6 artworks per day.

5. He executed a mural painting titled ‘Mahabali’ (The Great Sacrifice) on the walls of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York freehand. The 21-meter by 6-meter ‘floor to wall’ mural speaks of human suffering and the environment.

6. He walked around everywhere carrying a long oversized paintbrush that had become a part of his legend.

7. One of his favorite muses was Bollywood superstar Madhuri Dixit; his adoration of the actress resulted in many works inspired by her and her films. He would later direct the film ‘Gaja Gamini’ featuring the actress in 2000. Rumor has it that he watched one of her film a total of 67 times!

8. Husain’s diverse influences both in inspiration and style acknowledged his respect and openness to ancient and new styles of painting. He used symbolization to pay homage to some of the western masters by incorporating Salvador Dali’s signature mustache, Cezanne’s apple, and Van Gogh’s chair among others in his works.

9. Aside from being well-respected and sought after, he was also multi-awarded. He was conferred the Padma Shri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1973), and Padma Vibhushan (1991) by the Government of India along with several honorary doctorates from several distinguished universities.

10. Although considered one of the greatest artists in the history of Indian art, he remained in a self-imposed exile from 2006 until his death on June 2011. He accepted Qatari citizenship in 2010.

To know more about this great artist; visit http://mf-husain.com/

Text Reference: 

2 3 4 Sudha Tilak, The Private Life of a people’s painter, The Hindu – Business Line, December 15, 2017

5 8 9 Najma Husain, Husain’s Art, Pragati Offset Ltd., Hyderabad, 2016