Finding pleasure in art
Akbar Padamsee might be 85 years old, but there's no sign of forgetfulness associated with old age in him. On the contrary, a chat with the acclaimed artist is full of anecdotes from his stay in Paris, to drawing a nude for the first time.
Padamsee, who’s doing a solo show after a decade and showcasing 40 new works of art, including a 14 X 5 feet painting, couldn’t help chuckling when we asked him what keeps him going at this age. “Are you suggesting I should go completely now?” he joked. The artist spoke to CS about the show and his passion for art:
Colour on canvas
My themes remain the same — heads, nudes, landscapes or metascapes. The theme doesn’t change. It’s about how you interpret them as the years go by. One gets new insights into them. This time, my main insight was colour, and the juxtaposition of colour.
Painting for fun
One of the most wonderful things about my work is that I have fun doing it. It’s a pleasure. When one of my first paintings was sold, I asked my brother why should somebody pay me for something I have so much pleasure doing? (laughs) He started laughing. I told him, you people do business for money. You should be paid. I enjoy my work and so does any artist. Even if nobody paid us or whether it sold or not, we’ll keep painting.
Age no bar!
A few months after I went to France, there was an advertisement in paper about an anonymous exhibition, so I sent a painting. In a week’s time, I received a telegram saying that I’ve received the third prize and that I must come and receive my award from Andre Breton and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God! I’ll be getting an award from Breton, who’s known as the pope of surrealism’! So I went and introduced myself to him. He just looked at me and asked how old I am. I told him I am 22 years old. He told me that I’m a child and that I’m sharing the prize with a 40-year-old artist Jean Carzou. He shouted out to Carzou and told him to come and meet this 22-year-old from Mumbai who’s sharing the prize with him. When Carzou saw me, he said I don’t want this prize, let him take it all! Another artist told Breton that he was setting a dangerous precedent by letting someone so young take the prize. Breton told him that Padamsee’s from India, a country that has a tradition of thousands of years. So he’s not treating me like a 22-year-old but as 22,000 years old! (laughs) I will never forget that statement.