1956, Still life, 56.5X87cm, oil on canvas

Almost the only period in time when Padamsee has experimented with still-life was in 1956.His still-lifes show ordinary kitchen equipment, warm, intimate - in glowing colours.In a letter to his brother he writes "My dear Nicky, thank you for your letter. I am happy that you like the photos of my recent paintings - my work has undergone a lot of change...I myself consider my recent work - the still life - as a great step ahead. Of course I have to concretize now, all the discoveries in my future work...I feel I am in the right direction...My exhibition is fixed at Galerie Ventadour from 1st March to 22nd March..."

Akbar Padamsee in a letter to Nuruddin Padamsee, 6th December 1956.

We may now examine the early landscapes and still-lifes which seem dominated by an excessive contemporaneity. In these, the paintings gather into themselves a need to engage with particulars rather than universals, and a related pictorial desire to make individual meaning from private, quotidian experience, rather than to mould traditional resources in keeping with the dictates of ancestral wisdom (by ancestry, one means here, of course, the painter’s perceived affinities with, for instance, Cezanne, Braque, and Rouault). The objects of the meditation are now mundane: houses, an egg –beater. Padamsee has elsewhere worked variations and deviations over the portrait and the landscape genre; here the tackles the still-life, with its freight of associations with the frozen ephemeron, the act of preservation, solemn recognition of transience as its undertone. His subversion of the genre allows for a playful quality almost of frolic, as the inanimate beater, spoon and long-stemmed glass tilt into a little jig. Some of the landscapes of this period articulated around small houses, gently moored, also ring with the hushed note of the still-life, attaining a peculiarly intermediate identity. Throughout these, the material is emphasized, as is the reduction in scale and dimension.

‘Akbar Padamsee,Between the Hieratic and the Human’,1992,Art Heritage,Delhi,
Text: Ranjit Hoskote.

HB: In this “still-life”, it is not as if the stage has been set with an imagined light coming from the right and illuminating the grinder and the pot. It is much more coming from within the utensils; light seems to be an effect of the shift in coloration.

AP: Yes, I chose very humble objects; I wanted to give them an aura.

HB: The ladle has a touch of red, which gives it an incandescent light. The grinder has almost a pink – gold luster. The ladle, grinder, and jug all have an aura, but the tea strainer in the middle has been condemned to hell.

AP: To give it contrast…………..

Conversion of Homi Bhabha and Akbar Padamsee,2009
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