Ambadas Ambadas Ambadas Ambadas Ambadas




1922 - 2012


Born in Akola, Maharashtra, in 1922, Ambadas received training at a private art school in Ahmedabad, run by the artist Ravi Shankar Raval.

Unfortunately, after three years of landscape and figurative art, Ambadas felt he was a misfit and left Ahmedabad for Bombay. He enrolled at Sir J. J. School of Art in 1947 where, along with classmates Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, and Mohan Samant, he completed his diploma in 1952.

His subaltern origins and frugal living, Gandhian values and high ideals, all shaped his personality into a complex one, with the clash of material and spiritual needs making him strive for a higher purpose in life.

Employment as a handloom textile designer at the government-run Weavers’ Service Centre made him shift from Bombay to Madras, and then to New Delhi. Here, he met like-minded artists J. Swaminathan, Rajesh Mehra and Himmat Shah, with whom, in 1962, he became one of the twelve founder members of Group 1890. These artists questioned the existing art scenarios and contemplated the ideological shifts necessary for modern Indian art, both through criticism and novel creation. However, the association did not last long, disintegrating soon after the group’s first and only exhibition.

An abstract artist, Ambadas won the Lalit Kala Akademi’s national award in 1963 for his work, Hot Wind Blows Inside Me. He soon travelled to the U.S.A. and Germany on a scholarship and, in 1972, settled in Norway. He passed away in Oslo in May 2012.

‘A painting by Ambadas is a world in itself, a true microcosm, conceived in his own scale but reflecting the order and disorder of the infinitely vaster universe’


artist timeline


Ambadas Khobragade is born in Akola, Maharashtra, and grows up close to Mahatma Gandhi’s extended family. He later drops his surname, Khobragade. Given his subaltern origins and a childhood deeply influenced by Gandhian ideals, he rejects materialism, seeks spiritualism, and shuns ornamentation in his artistic practice.


Studies for his diploma in painting from Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay, along with classmates Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, and Mohan Samant.


Exhibition organised by Group Non-Representational, formed by Ambadas, Homi Patel, Apollinaire de Souza, and S. G. Nikam. They exhibit together again the following year.


Works at Vikram Toy Factory, Bombay.


Travels extensively around India, but spends most of this time in Assam and Manipur, and goes to Burma, before returning to settle in Bombay as a painter.


Is awarded a gold medal at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society.


Is employed by the Weavers’ Service Centre in Madras, and, later, New Delhi and Bombay.


Is part of ‘12 Painters’ exhibition, New Delhi.


Is a founder-member of a coalition of twelve artists led by J. Swaminathan called Group 1890. Has his first solo exhibition at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi.


Is part of Group 1890’s only exhibition in New Delhi. It is inaugurated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the presence of Mexican poet Octavio Paz. Receives a national award from Lalit Kala Akademi for his work, Hot Wind Blows Inside Me.


Is part of ‘Art Now in India’ exhibition in Newcastle, England, and Ghent, Belgium.


Has a solo exhibition at Kunika Chemould Gallery, New Delhi (and again in 1970). Takes part in the Tokyo Biennale, Japan.


Participates in Lalit Kala Akademi’s national exhibition.


Is a guest artist of the Government of West Germany.


Travels to Baroda to meet with artists and explore the possibility of reviving Group 1890. Takes part in the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil. Is part of the exhibition, ‘25 Years of Art in Bombay’, organised by Chemould Gallery, Bombay. Has an exhibition at Delhi Silpi Chakra, New Delhi. Participates in group show ‘Contemporary Art in India and Iran’, sponsored by the Ben and Abby Grey Foundation. Identifying his work as ‘abstract expressionism’, American curator and art historian Clement Greenberg arranges for Ambadas to tour America’s art centres for three months and interact with major abstractionists of the country.


Is part of the exhibition, ‘Five Contemporaries’, in New Delhi and Ahmedabad. Exhibits at Chemould Gallery, Bombay.


Has exhibitions in Tehran, Iran, and Zurich, Switzerland.


Travels to U.S.A. and Germany on a scholarship from the Indian government before settling in Norway, Europe. His marriage to Hege Backe is the reason he settles in Norway.


Has a solo exhibition at Gallery Art in Zurich, and at Surya Gallerie in Freinsheim, Germany.


Has a solo show in Henning Larsens Kunsthandel, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Has a solo exhibition at Kunstnerforbundet Gallery, Oslo, Norway.


Takes part in the Menton Biennale, France. The same year, he has exhibitions at Chemould Gallery, Bombay (and again in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1998), and at Dhoominal Gallery, New Delhi (and again in 1985, 1987, 2001).

1977, '79

Solo exhibition at Gallery Alana, Oslo.


Is invited to be a jury member of the Bharat Bhavan Biennale, Bhopal.


Has a major solo exhibition during the Festival of India, Japan, organised at Takaoka Municipal Museum of Art and Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo. Solo exhibition at Modum Kunstforening, Vikersund, Norway.


Solo exhibition at Gallery Nicolai, Bergen, Norway.


Is artist-in-residence at Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. Many of his works are part of the collection of Bharat Bhavan’s Roopankar Museum.


Exhibits at Art Heritage, New Delhi.


Solo exhibition at Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay.


Solo exhibition at Gallery L.M.N., Oslo.


Solo exhibitions at Vadehra Art Gallery and Gallery Espace, both in New Delhi.


Is part of the National Exhibition in Oslo.


Solo exhibition at United Art Gallery, California State University, Stanislaus, U.S.A.


Solo exhibition at Asker Kunstforening, Asker, Norway.


Solo exhibition at Gallery Dobloug, Oslo.


Exhibitions at Gallery Art Motif, New Delhi.


A retrospective, ‘Ambadas: Sublime Encounters / (1965-2005)’ is organised at DAG, New Delhi. Is part of Lalit Kala Akademi’s group exhibition ‘Moderns’ organised by the Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan, in collaboration with the Embassy of India in Jordan.


Is part of Lalit Kala Akademi’s group show ‘Paz Mandala’ in New Delhi.


Is part of Lalit Kala Akademi’s exhibition, ‘Masters of Maharashtra’, at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai.


Is part of group show ‘Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980)’ organised by Indigo Blue Art, Singapore.


Dies at the age of ninety in Oslo, Norway.


dag exhibitions

‘Ambadas: Sublime Encounters, 1965-2005 – Retrospective’

DAG, New Delhi, 2008

The ‘Manifestations’ series of 20th Century Indian Art, Editions V, VI, VIII, IX

DAG, New Delhi, 2011-13

‘Indian Abstracts: An Absence of Form’

DAG, New Delhi, 2014; Mumbai and New York, 2015

‘India Modern: Narratives of 20th Century Indian Modern Art’

DAG, New York, Mumbai and New Delhi, 2015

‘Group 1890: India’s Indigenous Modernism’

DAG, Mumbai and New York, 2016

‘Memory & Identity: Indian Artists Abroad’

DAG, New York, 2016; New Delhi, 2017

‘The Wonder of India: Explorations through 19th and 20th Century Art’

DAG, New York, 2021

'Soliloquies of Solitude: Five Indian Abstractionists in the West'

DAG, Mumbai, 2023

notable collections

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh

Birla Academy of Fine Art, Kolkata

National Gallery, Norway

Roopankar Museum of Art, Bhopal

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai

Ben & Abbey Grey Foundation, U.S.A.

Glenbarra Museum, Hem Ji, Japan

Norwegian Cultural Council

Norsk Kulturrad, Norway