Padamsee went to live and work in France in the year 1951 after his art education Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai. In 1952, he was awarded a prize by Andre Breton, known as the pope of surrealism, on behalf of the Journale d'art.
His very first solo show was in Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai in 1954. Though widely spoken of as a modernist, Padamsee continues to resist easy
categorization. Throughout his illustrious career spanning six decades, he has
remained fiercely experimental and individualistic.
In 1962, Padamsee was awarded a gold medal from the Lalit Kala Akademi, and in 1965 a fellowship from the J.D. Rockefeller Foundation. Subsequently he was invited to be an artist-in-residence by Stout State University, Wisconsin.
In 1969-71, with the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship funds he set up inter-art Vision Exchange Workshop (VIEW), where artists and filmmakers could freely experiment across various disciplines and practices. It is remembered to this day as a landmark initiative, providing the much needed creative stimulus to
several young people who are now internationally well known. Padamsee himself made two short abstract films - Syzygy and Events in a Cloud Chamber, where he animated a set of geometric drawings.
Since the seventies, his work is seen to alternate between two major genres, luminous metascapes - his signature works, and the human figure which he continues to imbue with an arresting presence.
In the year 1980, a retrospective of his work was organized by the Art Heritage Gallery, in Mumbai and New Delhi. Akbar Padamsee was awarded the prestigious Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1997. Other awards include the Lalit Kala Ratna Puraskar in 2004, the Dayawati Modi Award in 2007,''Roopdhar" award by Bombay Art Society - 2008 and Kailash Lalit Kala award in the year 2010. In 2010, he was awarded the Padama Bhushan by the government of india.
Padamsee lives and works in Mumbai.