Born in Margao, Goa, Pai studied and later taught at the Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay, and for a period of ten years was the principal of Goa College of Art. He participated in the Goa liberation movement, and was imprisoned for his involvement in Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement. Yet, most of Laxman Pai’s art is characterised by vigourous graphic impressions of simple themes as his visual response to celebrating life’s experiences. Free from any commentary or moralistic narrative, they communicate a highly refined individualistic sensibility. A contemporary and compatriot of F. N. Souza, Pai grew up in the lush environs of Goa and the beauty of its landscape forms a recurrent source of inspiration in his work.
Years spent in Paris helped him in forming an individual artistic language that incorporated elements like angular simplification, flatness of the pictorial surface, the use of an expressive, rhythmic line and its lyrical qualities. With influences that span the works of artists Paul Klee, Mark Chagall and Joan Miro, Laxman Pai’s works illustrate an eclectic intermingling of the traditional and the modern. Bright exuberant colours, the structural use of line, and diagrammatic figuration are key aspects of his style.
His works demonstrate his exploration of the stylistics of Indian folk art. Apart from his visual references, Pai’s experimentation with partial abstraction was also enabled through his forays into Indian classical music. His innovative paintings have brought the spirit of the native into the realm of modern art. Part of international collections, Pai has twice won the Lalit Kala Akademi’s National Award, has received the Padma Shri and the Goa government’s award.