Posts Tagged ‘India


New Works by K.G. Subramanyan

150205 KG Subramanyan Exhibition

150208 Kala Bhavan2Black and White Mural, Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, November–December 2009

They are very few social events in Santiniketan. K.G. Subramanyan’s 91st birthday certainly is and called for a special exhibition of his most recent works at Kala Bhavan’s Nandan Art Gallery. Not only he is one of the most renown alumni of the university created by Rabindranath Tagore, but he owned the title of Professor Emeritus and dedicated 25 years of his life guiding Visva Bharati’s aspiring young artists. Sharing his time between Gujarat’s cultural capital, Baroda, and Santiniketan, each one of his visits is duly celebrated.

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo3It is no wonder that Santiniketan’s intelligentsia still welcome Subramanyan with such devotion. This pioneer of indian modern art blurred the barrier between art and crafts, between artists and artisans.

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo6

150205 KG Subramanyan Interview1“I am a restless soul”

He was always keen to promote ancient skills and crafts which had not been destroyed entirely by industry and mass production. Toy-making, pottery, illustration & design, terra-cotta sculpture, literature, he never confined himself to one media.

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo7

150205 KG Subramanyan Interview“Art is something I have to do; my reason for being.”

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo2Born in South India in 1924 and involved, in the early stages of India’s fight for independence along with Gandhiji’s peaceful soldiers, he could not enroll an art college before 1944 when Nandalan Bose, painter and principal of Kala Bhavan, summoned him to join Visva-Bharati.

150208 KG Subramanyan Collage“KG Subramanyan is one artist who has moved to assimilate the traditional and the modern in a twentieth century Indian context. His work appropriates elements of Indian visual tradition, as well as popular and classical elements and reinterprets them through modernist forms and techniques. His works inherit global visual culture, containing elements of Hindu iconography, Euro-American modernism and classical fresco painting. Subramanyan characterises a key section of the broader Indian modernist movement, which seeks to redefine tradition as a living, changing language. This essay argues that the interaction of tradition and modernity in India is indicative of a broader reality: that tradition is a fluid, living form.”

Tradition and the Art of Modern India, Kieran Browne, ANU Press, 2014

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo6If Subramanyan learned from his fellows Nandalal Bose, Ram Kinkar Baij or Benode Bihari Mukherjee, his art was not limited to these indian precursors. The influence of Picasso, Henri Matisse and the formalists are obvious even though absorbed, digested and mingled with indian ancestral tradition.

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo4“His experiments with interpenetration of Hindu iconography and the assimilation of popular, modern, classical and indigenous traditions have been vital to the revival of Indian visual culture. In continuing the work of Tagore and Bose, Subramanyan has enlivened Indian indigenous tradition and reinvented it for present purposes.”

Tradition and the Art of Modern India, Kieran Browne, ANU Press, 2014

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo7“The fulfillment of a modern Indian artist’s wish to be part of a living tradition, i.e. to be individual and innovative, without being an outsider in his own culture, will not come of itself, it calls for concerted effort.”

K. G. Subramanyan

L1010468However, even in presence of such a “giant” of indian modern art history, the media coverage focuses on those few “white faces” in the room…

150205 Ranjani Ramachandran Concert2And because such talent and longevity calls for celebration, the night ended with young singer Ranjani Ramachandran’s homage to the artist.