Ambadas

Faceless Divinity, 1968

Image for Faceless Divinity, 1968

Ambadas Uttamrao Khobragade (known as Ambadas) is celebrated in India as a visionary abstract painter. Applying layers of paint on canvas, he created richly textured, semi-sculptural works. The artist offers no narrative and avoids overt representation, instead directing the viewer’s attention to the painting’s color, form, and texture—as in Faceless Divinity, perhaps referencing female genitalia.

He consistently rebelled against the use of Indic forms, opting instead for pure abstraction. Drawing from a range of philosophies, including structural anthropology, he believed that meaning is not intrinsic but, rather, is generated by social forces. Accordingly, Faceless Divinity’s pulsing forms and red sphere may stand for the elemental, generative powers from which natural energy pours and confers meaning.

Ambadas worked for the Weavers’ Service Centre as an art designer along with a number of other Indian modernists—including Prabhakar Barwe and Arpita Singh—all of whose work evinces textile-like color rhythms. Co-founding the Bombay-based Group Non-Representational, which promoted abstraction, and the the Bhavnagar based Group 1890 in 1962, Ambadas actively opposed art movements in Bombay and other urban centers. Group 1890 resisted contemporary and earlier efforts to carve out an identity for Indian modernist art through the use of Indic forms with modernist aesthetics. In 1972 he moved to Norway, where he lived until his death.

Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 60 1/8 x 36 in.
Donor Gift of Abby Weed Grey
Credit Line Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection
Object ID G1975.184

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Collection Years: 1968