K. G. Subramanyan : Sketching the lines of Modern Indian Art
K. G. Subramanyan is one of the artists that have inspired me since I was a child. The seemingly effortless sketches and paintings are like nothing else I’ve come across. I think his style is vividly inspired from the folk art styles based in India, but has a drastic modern …
K. G. Subramanyan is one of the artists that have inspired me since I was a child. The seemingly effortless sketches and paintings are like nothing else I’ve come across. I think his style is vividly inspired from the folk art styles based in India, but has a drastic modern expressionist impression on it. The flow, of the forms in his artworks, is quite rigid, and yet seems effortlessly lucid. His style can be compared to Outsider Art, since initially he had not received formal education in the field of art.
K.G Subramanyan was initially an outsider to the art scene. Subramanyan was born in 1924 in Kuthuparamba in Kerala, India, and initially studied economics at Presidency College, Madras. During the Indian freedom struggle he was actively involved and was known for his Gandhian ideology. He was even imprisoned and later banned from joining government colleges during the British Rule. The turning point of his life, as an artist, came when he visited Santiniketan to study in Kala Bhavan, the art faculty of Visva Bharati University, in the year 1944. Under the tutelage of such pioneers of modern Indian art as Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij, Subramanyan studied there till 1948. He is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan Award, which is the second highest Civilian honor in India.
Subramanyan defies bracketing and stands a little apart on the Indian art scene. Drawn to the nationalist movement early in life he developed an ideological perspective on culture even before he went to art school. Educated at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, one of the nerve centers of pre-independence cultural resurgence under artists who were exercised about the larger questions of cultural practices, he was geared to take a broader view of life and art. This separated him from his contemporaries in post-independent India who were largely guided by a passionate commitment to European modernist styles and modernist individualism.