Pai was 95 when he died at his home in Dona Paula in Margao, South Goa.
The most decorated artist, Pai was the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Nehru Award and three Lalit Kala Akademi awards.
He had also participated in Goa’s liberation struggle in the Portuguese empire and was imprisoned at least three times for political activism.
Pai began his art education at the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai but honed his skills in Paris where he studied etching and fresco at olecole des Beaux-Arts. Syed Haider Raza, another well-known alumnus of the same center, helped Pai move to the city where he lived for ten years from 1951 to 61.
While living in Mumbai, Pai participated in the activities of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, which included Goan partner FN Souza, Raza, MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta and KH Ara.
During my ten years in France (1951-61), I visited and briefly exhibited exhibitions at the 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 them and made them my own through my paintings and drawings … However the themes in my works were my memories of Goan titles, Jeidev’s ‘Geet Govind’, Ramayaan series and life Mahatma Gandhi… All my work made in Paris was sold. FN Souza, Bakre, Alkazi and Raza played a major role in supporting and securing the venues for my exhibitions, ”Pai said in an interview with Jugoeta Sudan for Joao Roque in 2019.
Pai was famous for the Raagmala series of mysterious paintings based on various Indian raags, which show his deep stability in ancient music, literature and philosophy. He also trained with guitar, dilruba and flute.
Pai also served as dean of the Goa College of Art from 1977-87.
The successful artist, whose best-selling work, A Market Scene, brought ₹ 36.8 lakh to Pundole Auction in 2015 according to Artery India Price Databank.
“It is with great sadness that the famous Goa singer Padma Bhushan Shri Laxman Pai passed away. Goa has lost its value today. We will always remember his great contribution to the arts. My deepest sympathies go out to her family. The Goa Prime Minister Prodod Sawant wrote on Twitter for the news of the death by writing Om shanti.
The opposition leader – Digambar Kamat said that he is deeply saddened by the passing of world famous Goan singer Padma Bhushan Laxman Pai. His passing will create a huge gap in the arts. He belonged to Pai Fondekar’s family in Margao. He also sympathized with his family.
Pai, whose works are part of collections around the world, had nine shows while in Paris; he had also exhibited in London, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, New York, San Francisco and Bangkok among other cities around the world.