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Hari Ambadas Gade

Indian Modern  Artist
Born 1917, Amravati, Maharashtra, India
Died 2001
Lived and worked in Mumbai

Considered as one of the first abstract expressionist painters of post-independence India, Gade was a significant founding member of the progressive art movement in India. He began his painting career by painting in watercolours inspired by SH Raza and later switched to oil paintings. He mostly painted landscapes shaped by the slums of Bombay.




Master of Fine Arts, Nagpur School of Art, Maharashtra, India


Diploma in Fine Arts, Nagpur School of Art, Maharashtra, India


Nagpur School of Art (Part Time), Maharashtra, India


Bachelor of Science, Nagpur University, Maharashtra, India

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Gade's work with the Progressives

One of the primary objectives of the Bombay Progressives was to disengage art from historical exigencies. Gade began with painting landscapes in water colours but eventually switched to oils on canvas. He used a palette knife along with a paintbrush to execute his paintings. As secretary of the Progressive Artists's Group, Gade brought his lifelong friend and fellow artist S. H. Raza into the group when it was in the formative stages. Their work together reflects a break from the colonial values and styles which the British tried to standardise in colonial India. Their maverick approach towards art also rejected the Bengal School of painting's conservative and nationalist principles.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Omkareshwar, 1956, gouache on paper, 12 1/8 x 16".

Despite majorly depicting landscapes, Gade also experimented with other themes

Unplanned, rambling structures populate Gade’s depictions of townships and cityscapes where the colours bleed out of the abstract compositions. Gade’s landscapes are a subtle mix of land and nature. Though he never completely avoided nature, he didn’t overrate its role either. Apart from his prolonged preoccupation with landscapes, which included those of Kerela, Indian monsoons and Rajasthan (Udaipur), his oeuvre included painting the slums and poverty of Bombay in the 1950s, still lifes and nude portraits.

Hari Ambadas Gade, 1953, gouache on paper, 14.5 X 21.0”.

Hari Ambadas Gade, 1945, watercolour on handmade paper, 10.7” X 14.7”

His fascination with mathematics is evident in his geometrical landscapes

Gade had a degree in science and was quite intrigued by Mathematics as he is known to have read several works by Roger Fry, a 19th century English theorist and art critic, on painting techniques and aesthetics. His preoccupation with the mathematical is what gives a cubist touch to his paintings, though not in an overbearing manner. It is abstract art but with a planned look which cannot be pinpointed as pure abstraction.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Untitled, 1940–1949, gouache on paper

The use of colour dominates Gade's works

As one of the founders of the Bombay Progressives, like others in the group H. A. Gade also strived to explore the realm of unconventionality as part of their combined revolt against academic art. One of his techniques involved the use of vivid colours, which to a certain extent undermined the subject of the painting itself. Colour takes on a dynamic quality in Gade’s paintings.

He was referred to as the ‘painter’s painter’ in the art world, as he was an adherent of the ‘visual’ and he had in depth knowledge regarding the pictorial representation of colour. In an Untitled work sold posthumously in 2012, one can see that the colour of the monument and the people gathered in front of is imbued with a sense of vibrancy. Although the monument itself and the surroundings are not very clear, the composition acquires a captivating quality due to the usage of bright colours.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Untitled, acrylic on paper, 14 x 18”.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Untitledwatercolour on paper, 12 x 12”.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Untitled (Coastal Town), oil and ink on paper board, 24.5 X 29.5”.

Hari Ambadas Gade, Untitled, gouache on card, 38 7/8 x 18 7/8”.