SUDHIR PATWARDHAN | Spectres: D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

27 October - 24 November 2017


Sudhir Patwardhan


October 27- November 24, 2017
Vadehra Art Gallery D-53 Defence Colony, Delhi
Open Monday to Saturday | 11 am to 7 pm



Vadehra Art Gallery is proud to present a major solo exhibition of artist Sudhir Patwardhan at Vadehra Art Gallery, D 53, Defence Colony, New Delhi between October 27 and November 24, 2017. The exhibition has travelled from Mumbai where it was shown at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, October 3-9, 2017.  

Titled Spectres, the show comprises of a significant body of over 80 works by the artist. Patwardhan inspects the concept of public space in India even as he plays with the idea of ‘home’. He navigates the dimensions of that enclosed, private space to create a liminal universe that contains and nurtures the history of that space.

Within that sanctified personal domain is also the exploration of the space of the studio as opposed to that of the domestic setting of the home. Soon after retiring from his medical practice, Patwardhan had moved in with his wife Shanta into a new apartment in an idyllic landscape, which was capacious enough to double as his studio. However, Patwardhan, having maintained a strictly separate studio space for decades until then, suddenly felt alienated from his workspace when it fused with his residence. The boundary between the strictly personal space of work and that of the home got blurred, in effect rendering the artist anchorless.

Patwardhan draws on this confusion to create the body of work on display, capturing the said apartment from different angles and positions. Depicted in a panoramic spread, the resulting paintings follow an accordion-like structure, the form is adopted from the lateral frame of the scroll (filtered through the Santiniketan murals of Benode Behari Mukherjee) to enable a perceptual play with movement in the paintings. The horizontal capture of the spatial configurations of the apartment enables a temporal expanse as well, in that it encourages the painting to have a narrative subtext. The paintings therefore acquire a weight of personal history and memory, the form of the same exhibiting a symbolic resonance while being manifestly realist. Patwardhan’s work is marked by such ambivalence, as his figures betray a clear resistance to airtight representations.

In this coming together of two apparently disparate spaces in his work, Patwardhan presents vignettes of people from the archives of his personal memory against a broad canvas of melancholia and existential angst. Given his medical background, Patwardhan has used his anatomical knowledge of the human body (strictly viewed through the lens of health and death) to create unique subjects from observation on the streets, replete with representation of their cultural and/or habitual idiosyncrasies. 

His paintings are also populated by imagined subjects where optical illusions (after artist M.C. Escher’s signature works) are made use of to question the concepts of perception, representation and interpretation. The ‘impossible objects’ in these works speak also of his anxiety around perspective as it manifests in the home/studio phenomenological divide. The subject-object relationship is then explored in its indistinct hierarchy as the perpetual negation of one in favour of the other points towards broader questions about language and representation. Patwardhan takes great care in depicting ambient objects/impressions, while at the same time playing with the picture-plane to confuse the viewer’s gaze. Through his works, Patwardhan also goes back to his hometown, Pune, as he depicts public streets in their altered architecture; home and the street become continuous spaces through the paintings, as the two lives merge to form a phantom of a third space.



Born in Pune, Maharashtra in 1949, Sudhir Patwardhan graduated in Medicine from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune in 1972. A practicing radiologist, Patwardhan is a visual artist whose work primarily concerns the cityscape, with its constituent people in their everyday particularities comprising his dramatis personae. Apart from several solo show he has participated in international exhibitions like 'Aspects of Modem Indian Art' Oxford, U.K. 1982; Contemporary Indian Art, festival of India, London, 1982; Seven Indian Artists, Hamburg, West Germany, 1982; Contemporary Indian Art, Festival of India, New York, 1985; Festival of India, Center George Pompidou, Paris 1986 and 'Coupe de Coeur' Geneva, 1987. His paintings are in many public and private collections including The National of Modern Art, New Delhi; Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi; Punjab University Museum, Chandigarh; Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal; Gallery of Contemporary Art, Kochi; Peabody Essex Museum, Mass. USA. and the Herwitz Family Collection, USA.