Paying tributes to the noted artist Ambadas Khobragade during his birth centenary, Ushaarth Art Foundation is holding an exhibition of his works at New Delhi’s India International Centre.
The show includes paintings and drawings spanning seven decades of the artists’ practice, from the collection of Dhoomimal Gallery as well as works from several other private collections. Also on display are letters, photographs, old catalogues and writings related to the artist and his work.
Born in Telegaon, Maharashtra in July 1922. He was the youngest of the six children. The family moved to Akola when he turned 10. He received his Diploma in Art from the Sir JJ School of Art in 1952 wherein he studied with artists like Mohan Samant, Tyeb Mehta and Akbar Padamsee. He was deeply impacted by Shankar Palsikar, one of his teachers. He then took a job in Vikram Toy factory, Bombay where his work involved designing and painting wooden toys. He worked there for three years. Moving ahead, in 1959, he joined the Weaver’s Studio under the Handloom Board of India, where several masters of Indian art used to design textiles to support themselves while pursuing their art practice. In 1962, Ambadas got the Bombay Art Society Gold Medal, and the next year he was awarded the Lalit Kala Academy National Award.
On his visit to India in 1967, American Art Critic Clement Greenberg saw the works of Ambadas, which greatly impressed him. He then invited Ambadas for a three-month tour of America. Five years later, Ambadas migrated to Norway after marrying Norwegian Hege Backe, and settled there permanently though he continued exhibiting his works in his birth country apart from Europe.
Their home in Meltzersgate was like an Indian cultural centre, wherein the couple hosted several performances by artistes Amjad Ali Khan, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Zakir Hussain, the Gundecha Brothers, and Protima Bedi among others.
Feted as a great artist, he was often invited to India : In 1986, he was invited to be a member of the jury for the Bharat Bhavan Bienalle with artists Kishan Khanna and SH Raza while in 1990 he was appointed Artist in Residence at Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal.
Celebrated as one of India’s finest master abstractionists, Ambadas would mix his paints in kerosene and varnish – the former to break and scatter the pigment and the latter to bind it, leading to a distinctively unique appearance of his brush strokes. He never used an easel – he worked placing his canvas on the floor and moving all around it with unbridled energy, stopping only after the painting was completed.
Ambadas working on a piece
He passed away in 2012.
The Ushaarth Art Foundation is a not-for-profit trust with the primary aim of increasing awareness about Indian modern and contemporary art and artists especially amongst the youth, with a special focus on students from underprivileged and physically challenged backgrounds.
The exhibition is on view till June 27, 11am to 7pm