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Lot Details

Initialled in Malayalam (lower centre left)

Signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'K.G. Subramanyan / 'Ragini Vibhas' / 2003 / Reverse painting in plastic sheet in gouache and oils / 'Keep this paper in place; it protects the painting surface.' (on the reverse)

The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

K.G. Subramanyan: Recent Works, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2003

An extremely versatile artist, respected teacher and an avid writer, Subramanyan developed his repertoire with inspiration from Indian traditional arts and crafts. His experiments with reverse paintings began around the late 1970’s, thereby exposing him to many possibilities. These works stressed on elaborate visual narratives and are charged with humour, surprise and the inexplicable.

“I doodle constantly, based on the images I see and their transformations. Their mental extensions and changes of identity. I want my painting to be as quick and direct as my doodles, and the final stages of most paintings try to have their spontaneity. They often alter, even reverse, the original logic. In the way I do reverse paintings, all changes and improvisations pertain to the early stages where I use water colours. Here I can change, even wipe out images, introduce new details. In the later stage, where I back or lock the water-colour image with oil colours, my improvisations are confined to the use of colour. While painting with gouache colours or oils, I can improvise at every stage […] I try to give my reverse paintings an iconic character. I have used informal sketchiness only in a few of them. (K.G. Subramanyan in conversation with R. Siva Kumar, New Works: K.G. Subramanyan 2014, Seagull Foundation for the Arts, exhibition catalogue, Calcutta, 2014, p. 7 & 8)

K.G. Subramanyan

(1924 - 2016)
Born in Kerala in 1924, Subramanyan received his art education at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, and the Slade School of Art, London. He continued painting and teaching over the next few decades, and was appointed a fellow of the National Lalit Kala Akademi in 1985, and a Christensen Fellow at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, in 1987-88. Subramanyan also served as Dean at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M. S. University, Baroda, and in 1989 was appointed Professor Emeritus at Santiniketan. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions, and participated in several major Biennales and Triennales. In 1966 Subramanyan was awarded the John D. Rockfeller III Fund Fellowship. In recognition of his varied contributions to the development of Indian art he was awarded the Shiromani Kala Puraskar by the Government of India in 1994. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held in 2003 at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and Mumbai. Subramanyan was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2006 and 2012 respectively. At the age of 92, he passed away in Vadodara in June 2016.