Laxman Pai. (HT archive)
Laxman Pai. (HT archive)

Renowned Goa-based artist Laxman Pai no more

Pai was 95 when he passed away at his home in Dona Paula in Margao, South Goa. A much-decorated artist, Pai was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, the Nehru Award and three Lalit Kala Akademi awards
By Gerard de Souza
PUBLISHED ON MAR 15, 2021 06:01 PM IST

Renowned Goa-based artist Laxman Pandharinath Pai passed away on Sunday night in Goa after a brief battle with illness

Pai was 95 when he passed away at his home in Dona Paula in Margao, South Goa.

A much-decorated artist, Pai was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, the Nehru Award and three Lalit Kala Akademi awards.

He had also participated in Goa’s liberation movement from Portuguese rule and was imprisoned at least thrice for his political activism.

Pai began his art education at the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai but went on to hone his skills in Paris where he studied etching and fresco at the École des Beaux-Arts. Syed Haider Raza, another noted alumnus of the same institution, helped Pai travel to the city where he spent a decade from 1951 to 61.

During his stay in Mumbai, Pai participated in the activities of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, comprising fellow Goan artist FN Souza, Raza, MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta and KH Ara.

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“During my ten year stay in France (1951-61), I visited and minutely observed the exhibits in Musee du Louvre, Musee Rodin, Musee d’Orsay and other Paris museums and art galleries. I absorbed the elements I needed for my needs, digested and released them as my own through my paintings and drawings... However themes in my artworks were my memory recollections of Goan subjects, Jaidev’s ‘Geet Govind’, the Ramayaan series and life of Mahatma Gandhi…My entire body of work created in Paris got sold in exhibitions held there. FN Souza, Bakre, Alkazi and Raza were instrumental in supporting and finding venues for my exhibitions,” Pai said in an interview to Jugneeta Sudan for literary journal Joao Roque in 2019.

Pai was renowned for his Raagmala series of abstract paintings based on different Indian raags, which showcased his deep rootedness in classical music, texts and philosophy. He was also trained in the sitar, dilruba and the flute.

Pai also served as the principal of Goa College of Art from 1977-87.

A successful artist, his highest-selling work, A Market Scene, fetched 36.8 lakh at Pundole’s auction in 2015 according to the Artery India Price Databank.

“Deeply saddened by the passing away of renowned Goan artist Padma Bhushan Shri Laxman Pai. Goa has lost a gem today. We will always remember his immense contribution in the field of art. My heartfelt condolences to his family. Om shanti,” Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant tweeted on hearing the news of demise.

“Deeply saddened by the passing away of eminent Goan artist of international repute Padma Bhushan Laxman Pai. His passing away will create a big void in the field of art. He belonged to the Pai Fondekar family of Margao. My condolences to his family. May his Aatma attain sadgati,” Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat tweeted.

Pai, whose works are part of collections all around the world, had nine exhibitions while in Paris; he had also shown at London, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, New York, San Francisco and Bangkok among other global cities.

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