Yugma – meaning pairing or togetherness in Sanskrit – is the third iteration in a series of exhibitions that showcases S.H. Raza alongside a friend and contemporary, exploring the personal and artistic relationship between the two artists. In memoriam of Akbar Padamsee’s passing, YUGMA III is an homage to the closeness of thought and persona that made Raza and him vital interlocutors of art and visual language amidst a burgeoning art scene that emphasized the artist as genius. The exhibition centres around a selected body of works from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s – courtesy the collection at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi – and includes candid photography of the two artists at work and at play as well as intimate, epistolary correspondences the two shared during their life.
One of the most internationally renowned Indian artists of his generations, Raza’s works have found a synthesis of Western Modernism and Indian Tantric sensibilities, immediately identifiable because of their striking colour palette and vibrant hues, geometric patterns and lines. Around the 1960s particularly Raza’s compositions became transcendental, caught in the junction between his previous works, which were predominantly bursting with the flames of warm colours, and his new paintings, which negotiate between the abstract and the figurative, the surface and the shape, the pigment and the canvas. Although his palette settles towards a different array of colours, expanding through gradations and tonality of the same core pigments, his conceptual tether still remains anchored in the search of the organic cycle of creation and destruction. The dot, the womb, the seed, the beginning of all possible lines and rhythms and patterns are the driving force of Raza’s universe. It is at the same time the umbilical cord and the infinite mirror: it is both reflective of the cycle of the world and meditative and inwardly.
A similar timeframe, especially around the 1960s, was a decade of innovation, experimentation and evolution for Akbar Padamsee, as he travelled and worked across India, France and the US. During this high-energy time of constant movement and transition, the genre of landscape painting emerged as the hallmark of Padamsee’s practice, marking a noteworthy shift from empirical representation towards non- naturalism. Through his atmospheric and expressionistic compositions Padamsee evoked a sense for both the mythic and the material, the visible and the invisible. His motive was to prompt an inward experience of looking by disorienting the reliance on visuals and space a viewer requires in order to feel situated and belonging. Deconstructing seeing and vision, he turned to line and shape as the primary vocabulary of form signifying a disintegration of nature as both a convention and concept.