Like many artists of his generation, when Sunil Padwal expressed a desire to pursue a degree in fine arts, his father, imagined a struggling artist striving to make a living, and so he dissuaded him.With that in mind Padwal decided to pursue Applied Arts, instead, a course that ironically deals more with advertising and packaging rather than pure painting. After completing foundation course at J. J. School of Fine Art (1986) Padwal pursued a B.F.A at the J. J. Institute of Applied Art (1989). However he was destined to discover life as a painter and parallel to his education as an Applied Arts student, Padwal continued to paint, mostly secretly.
It was during this time, in 1993, that Padwal’s closet activity as a painter was ‘discovered’ and he decided to have an exhibition against all odds. His work of the time also revolved around discarded objects, abandoned doors and windows, upon which he scratched and painted, producing interesting textures and of course he introduced the world to his ‘Thinking Man’.
Encourage by the response to his first exhibition organized by the RPG in 1993, he quit his advertising job to pursue painting full-time and after that there was no looking back.
A series of exhibitions followed: Padwal has had exhibitions in Delhi and Mumbai.He has also participated in solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including shows in New York, Chicago, Singapore, Germany, and Hong Kong.
He received the Communication Art Guild Award in 1990, and was felicitated showing promise as an emerging artist at the Harmony show in the same year. He also received the Society, Young Achievers’ Award in 2004. His patrons include many film personalities, eminent writers, musicians and leading business houses. His public art includes- Mural at Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Artwork at Mumbai International Airport, Sculpture at New Delhi Metro station (Delhi Metro Airport Express Line station in New Delhi).
Padwal is still guided by a strong design sensibility that seeks to explore the complex multi-consciousnesses of urban youth. His paintings often frame his anxiety on issues such as nuclear proliferation, urban angst and alienation, represented through a mysterious, faceless character that often makes an appearance in his paintings.
The thinking Man is Padwal’s protagonist, soothsayer and mouthpiece, though often his features are obscured and his mouth is sealed, he exemplifies the ubiquitous anonymity and sense of foreboding that such a world imparts to the global community at large as well as to the individual psyche.
Padwal leaves the specific interpretation of the character’s intense presence open, with bold, emphatic, single-color palettes, Padwal’s canvases are layered and drips the paint over his enigmatic images in a way that suggests the act of masking/silencing his subjects. His oeuvre also consists of pop imagery that looks bright and playful while making a strong and sometimes dark statement.