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K G Subramanyan

1924 – 2016
K G Subramanyan

Masterpieces On Exhibit

K G Subramanyan

Born in Kerala on 15 February 1924, K G Subramanyan was among the leading artists who sought to explore a post-Independence Indian identity through art. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Presidency College in Chennai before pursuing his interest in art at Santiniketan in 1944, where he studied under the tutelage of Benode Behari Mukherjee, Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij for four years. In 1955, Subramanyan was awarded a British Council Research Fellowship to study at the Slade School of Art, University of London.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]A writer, scholar, teacher and art historian, K G Subramanyan was also prolific in his art, employing a range of mediums and styles. His belief in the revival of Indian traditions led him to create a new artistic idiom, and his practice incorporated drawing, oil painting, watercolour, murals and sculpture alongside toy making, set design, glass painting, pottery and weaving. His dedication to his art transformed Indian modernism and made it more diverse.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]Subramanyan’s career began in earnest in the 1950s, and his early training in Santiniketan was evident. In 1966, Subramanyan was awarded a J D Rockefeller III Fund Fellowship, which entailed a year-long stay in New York. It was during this period that his ongoing interest in semi-abstraction further evolved, reviving traditional techniques by infusing them with a unique plasticity that contemporised them and increased their reach. From the 1980s onwards, Subramanyan’s expanded artistic vocabulary grew to incorporate elements from a popular bazaar tradition of glass painting. 

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, K G Subramanyan’s work has been exhibited in over fifty solo shows, including an extensive 2015-2016 exhibition by Kolkata's Seagull Foundation for the Arts in collaboration with the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, and the Harrington Street Arts Centre, Kolkata. Subramanyan was also an inspiration to generations of students as a member of the Fine Arts Faculty at M S University in Vadodara. He passed away in Vadodara on 29 June 2016 at the age of 92. 

His exhibit with us is titled Girl’s Head, an acrylic on canvas made in 2010.