Eminent Artist, art educationist, designer, writer and philosopher of art, K.G. Subramanyam is major presence on the Indian scene. Born in Kerala and educated at Santiniketan, under great teachers like Nandalal, Benodebehari and Ramkinkar, he is an artist whose perspectives on art and life carry resonances of an early engagement with the nationalist movement in which Gandhi and Rabindranath loomed large.
As an artist-teacher closely associated with the art colleges at Baroda and Shantiniketan and as a designer consultant associated for long years with the Handloom board and the World crafts Council he has had a shaping influence on art and design practice in India. With his myriad interests and varied oeuvre he is an artist who carries forward the encyclopaedic vision and legacy of his mentors into the present. Subramanyan’s versatility comes partly from the diverse materials he works with as painter, muralist, printmaker, relief-sculptor, and sculptor, and designer, and partly from the flexibility and layered richness of his visual language.
The latter allows him to move from one level of communication or expression to another with great ease and without compromising on his individuality. The ease with which he does this – be it an illustrated book or a mural that wraps a whole building- is truly phenomenal. An artist known for making materials and process speak, he is also an artist with an incisive insight into the human world with its winning sensuality and unsetting complexity. In his recent work Subramanyam does this by using the many registers of language to slide from high seriousness to irony, celebration to subversion, descriptive rendering to lyrical evocation, fact to metaphor and form real to surreal with the ingenuity of a consummate craftsman and the alertness of nimble thinker.
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