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1965, Landscape, 102X102cm, oil on canvas

Akbar Padamsee: The idea of using the sun and moon in my metascapes originated when I was reading the introductory stanza to Abhijnanashakuntalam. Here Kalidasa speaks of the eight visible forms of the Lord without mentioning them by name, the sun and the moon as the two controllers of time, water as the origin of all life, fire as the link between man and god, and the earth as the source of all seed. This is the subjection of the denotative sense to a poetic meaning. Through this process, the artist deals with reality without describing it; when poetic meaning is superimposed upon the sign a new form arises - this belongs to the mind of the artist,not to nature.

Akbar Padamsee -A Conversation Mala Marwah, Lalit Kala Contemprory.April 1977.

“The subject matter is chosen to allow possibility of using colour, “ Padamsee says”,but there must be something uncanny there. Unless it is a disquieting,uncanny landscape I would reject it,” This preoccupation with “disquieting feeling” links various phases of Padamsee’s landscape painting, though at first sight they appear to vary greatly in the formal means used. For instance, the sun and moon flood the cityscapes of the Horizon paintings with an unearthly light. This gives the paintings a quality of an hallucination, despite what appears to be the reassuring warmth of sumptuous colour. Both in these landscapes and the “sun and moon metascapes”, painted in the ‘seventies, the colours are offset by blues that are electrifying as well as suffused with darkness. “ Blue is not only the colour of the sky,” Padamsee says, “ but can be make to project itself forward, contrary to its receding nature and possesses a psychological dimension, to evoke in the viewer a special feeling or mood. A tension between colour and colour creates planar movement, absence of the complementary creates expectation leading the mind into a quest of the imagination.”

Akbar Padamsee: Retrospective Art Heritage 1980-81;
Text Eunice de souza.

HB: These meta-landscapes bear a striking resemblance to some of the later mirror images, where paint presents itself both as form and object – it develops a vibrant volume that makes it almost three-dimensional, when it is actually applied to create a flattening effect. Let us look at the 1994 double image.

AP: In that year, I had an exhibition at Pundole titled mirror images.The diptychs were of equal size and images were either reversed or repeated in the adjacent canvas .Form and colour underwent change, as they passed from one canvas to the other, as if waking from sleep - two worlds, both the similar and dissimilar at the same time.

HB: ”Small” differences are often more optically and conceptually disturbing than those that are explicitly different. And the very act of repetition creates a fearful symmetry, rather than a harmonious synchrony. Have you read Freud’s great 1918 essay, “The Uncanny”,which is largely a theory of anxious doubling?

AP: I’m not familiar with this essay, though my brother Nicky made me read Freud’s Introductory Lectures when I was 12. He was most delighted when I told him that I had never realized before this that thinking was a system.

HB: That is a truly wonderful insight.These mirror landscapes are very disorienting in a profound way – you simply cannot locate yourself within them, as you would in an ordinary landscape.

Conversations - Homi Bhabha and Akbar Padamsee,2008.
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