K.G. Subramanyan

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VIDEO: President of India confers K.G. Subramanyan with Padma Awards 2012

New Delhi: Late cartoonist Mario Miranda, actors Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi, top mathematician M S Raghunathan, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal and industry leader B Muthuraman were among those conferred the Padma awards by President Pratibha Patil here on Wednesday. Miranda's son Rahul received the Padma Vibhushan from Patil at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan which was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and a host of other dignitaries. A loud round of applause reverbated in the majestic Durbar Hall when filmstar Dharmendra stepped forward to receive the Padma Bhushan award from the President. Shutterbugs had a field day as actor-turned-activist Shabana Azmi received the Padma Bhushan. Among the Padma Bhushan awardees were literary theorist Homi K Bhabha, violinist M S Gopalakrishnan, Tata Steel Vice Chairman B Muthuraman, former bureaucrat Mata Prasad, mathematician Raghunathan, jurist P Chandrasekhara Rao, Vittal, neurologist Noshir Hormusji Wadia and former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo. 88-year-old eminent painter K G Subramanyan (Padma Vibushan), Satya Narayan Goenka and Jose Pereira (Padma Bhushan) were not present at the ceremony. Among the Padma Shri awardees were industrialist Swati Piramal, eminent diabetologist V Mohan, former hockey Olympian Zaffar Iqbal, archer Limba Ram and cricket commentator of yesteryear Ravi Chaturvedi. Yakshagana exponent Ramachandra Subraya Hegde Chittani, sitar maestro Shahid Parvez Khan, terracotta artist Mohan Lal Kumhar, Rajasthani folk musician Sakar Khan Manganiar also received the Padma Shri. Odissi dancer Minati Mishra, theatre personality R Nagarathnamma, Lavani exponent Yamunabai Waikar and Chhau dancer Gopal Prasad Dubey Art also received the Padma Shri. Among the other Padma Shri awardees were Laila Tyabji (Handicrafts), Vijay Sharma (Painting), Reeta Devi, Niranjan Pranshankar Pandya, Sat Paul Varma and Phoolbasan Bai Yadav (Social Work). Scientists V Adimurthy, Virander Singh Chauhan, Vijaipal Singh, Y S Rajan and Jagdish Shukla were among the Padma Shri awardees. Distinguished Chartered Accountant Yezdi Hirji Malegam, industrialists Gopinath Pillai and Swati A Piramal, archaeologist K Paddayya and environmentalist Kartikeya V Sarabhai received the Padma Shri. Prof Mahdi Hasan, Shrinivas S Vaishya and Vallalarpuram Sennimalai Natarajan received the Padma Shrin in the medicine category. The Padma Shri conferees in the Literature and Education category were Eberhard Fischer, Surjit Singh Patar, Irwin Allan Sealy, Sachchidanand Sahai and Ralte L Thanmawia. Prabhakar Vaidya received the Padma Shri in the Physical Education category, while T Venkatapathi Reddiar was honoured for his contribution to horticulture. Homeopath Late Jugal Kishore was also among the Padma Shri awardees but no one from his family was present to receive the award.

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ARTICLE: K.G. Subramanyan : Sketches Scribbles Drawings

"'A sketch... records something that happens between the artist and the object. Now closer to the artist, now closer to the object, but still hanging in the tension in between. Or the memory or recall of that tension. A composite of line, scratches, smears, swabs and dots that recreates an object, it learns its rhythm in the process. And becomes an object by itself. The artist sometimes keeps it to the essentials; at other times he dresses it up and makes it play a role. Set sail a narrative. And take one to new shores of experience. This uncovers new images. So this ceaseless doodling; the unravelling of what is, then its reknitting into novel composites.' "K.G. Subramanyan is widely recognized as one of India's major modern artists, an influential teacher, an astute writer on art, and an authority on the folk, tribal and craft traditions of India. This volume of his 'sketches, scribbles, drawings' spans the work of the last 30 years, with the bulk of the material coming from the period between 1980 and the present. The selection has been put together by the artist himself, with the aim of compiling a definitive collection. "This volume includes his early sketches from 1968, the black-and-white drawings for his reverse paintings from 1980, his China, Japan, London and Oxford sketches, drawings of nature, and figure studies. It provides a rich variety of mediums and styles, from works in crayon and water-colour to pen and ink scribbles, brush drawings, notes, doodles and working drawings. "The volume opens with a thoughtful introduction by K.G. Subramanyan, reflecting on the importance and purpose of such sketches and drawings for an artist, and looking back on his experiences over a long and eminent career. There is also a substantial biographical sketch prepared by art historian and close associate R. Siva Kumar, who has closely observed K.G. Subramanyan's ouevre over the years." (jacket)

ARTICLE: I am a restless soul

Padma Vibhushan awardee artist K.G. Subramanyan, who recently turned 90 and was in the city, talks about his recent works and art over the years K.G. Subramanyan might be all of 90 but the twinkle in his eyes and the passion with which he talks about his art belies his age. The senior artist, who is credited with being one of the pioneers of Indian modern art, turned 90 earlier this year. It is to commemorate this that the artist’s recent works have been showcased across the country. In the city recently for his show at Salarjung Museum, the Baroda-based artist says that coming to the city is like coming home. “This is my third visit in the last couple of months and it feels like home. I have a lot of friends and old students here. This show was the brainwave of my publisher Naveen Kishore, who likes to organise such shows every time I reach a certain age. Now that I have reached 90, he got another chance,” chuckles the artist, adding, “He has an extensive itinerary planned. After Hyderabad the show will be held in Kochi, Chennai etc. I’m not travelling with the works, I don’t look forward to travelling as an old man. So while Naveen bears the burden most of the times, I also send my daughter whenever possible.” The artist decided to come to Hyderabad for the show because a documentary on his life made by Gautam Ghosh was to be screened. “However, it is not yet ready. What they did instead was screen another documentary that was made by Shaji N. Karun a few years ago. It is a very nice one,” he recalls. “Shaji, who is an excellent filmmaker, made the film when I was travelling in Kerala with my daughter; I had gone to the state after nearly 70 years. He made it without hijacking my trip and it came out very well. The only thing I don’t like about the film is myself. I look too bloated and old. I should have looked better,” laughs. Talking about his current works, the award-winning artist says that there is no specific theme. “It was not a show that I had planned. They are just works that I keep making and most of the ones on display are what I made in the last few months. The show has 90 of my most recent works on display,” he says. Subramanyan, likes to spend his days constructively. “I spend the time between breakfast and lunch keeping myself busy. I could either be writing or painting. I normally feel very sleepy after breakfast, but to keep that at bay I make sure I’m always doing something. I’m a restless soul and like to involve myself in things I enjoy,” says the artist, who continued to paint even when he was recovering from a recent hip-replacement surgery. “It wasn’t painful. For me art is something I have to do; my reason for being.” The artist, who spent several years teaching fine arts, believes that the art market has undergone a sea change. “Earlier one had to do something apart from just art to support themselves. Today however, there are a lot more buyers for art. Visual communication is the master these days and people don’t mind buying art as an investment. But it is not a market of connoisseurs today, it is people who have money that are buying it,” he says. Quiz him on whther he’d like to write a biography and he smiles, “Not really. People have asked me if I will. But I never maintained a diary when I was younger. I don’t want to write something that might be a personal myth.”

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NEWS: A long-awaited UAE debut for the veteran Indian artist KG Subramanyan

One of India’s greatest masters is about to have his first exhibition in the UAE, after more than five decades of practising art. K G Subramanyan – or KGS, as he is popularly known – began studying art in the 1950s and has had a great influence on his country’s art and design ­traditions. The exhibition, titled Sketches, Scribbles, Drawings by KG Subramanyan, begins with early sketches from the 1960s and moves on to drawings from the 1970s, black-and-white art from the 1980s, and nature and figure studies from the 1990s before coming right up to date with gouache, or pigment paintings, that are less than a month old. Although he is now 91 years old, Subramanyan still paints or draws every day. “When I get up to take my breakfast, the only way to keep me going through the day is to work,” he says. “I always doodle – you could call me a compulsive doodler. It is my way of getting into a relationship with what I see.” Subramanyan, whose work often focuses on the figure, but also draws on traditional myths and legends as well as embracing the Indian tradition of miniature painting, has become one of India’s most important artists. But, he says, he got into art quite by accident. “When I started out, I didn’t try to be an artist, I studied for an economics degree,” he says. But after he was jailed for a short time for his participation in the Quit India Movement during the fight for independence, it was difficult to find employment in that field, so he started studying art. “So, you see, I went into art by default, although I always had a love for it,” he says. Visitors to the five-day exhibition will be able to explore his five decades of practice, during which he explored many styles and influences. They may have their own particular favourites, but for the artist, there is no particular era that stands out. “I am favourable to every time in my life, why should I prefer one time over another?” he says. “In the past 50 years, everything has changed so drastically in the world that I don’t look back with nostalgia, I just move with the times.” Due to ill health, Subramanyan will not be able to visit Abu Dhabi for his show, which is at India House, the Embassy of India, but he says that he will be there in spirit. “India has a very rich ­tradition of artistic languages and I am interested in all of them. I hope people can witness them through my work and see the many layers of languages I try to portray.”

NEWS: Five decades of artwork by India’s K.G Subramanyan

The works of one of India’s most engaging and influential artists, K. G. Subramanyan - who is now 91 and produces artworks to this minute – are on display at the Sultan Al Owais Cultural Foundation in Dubai. Art lovers aware of Subramanyan’s contribution to the world of art will find plenty to be enriched by at the ‘Sketches, Scribbles, Drawings’, exhibition, while those who have only heard about him and never had the chance to see his works, will benefit immensely from the learning experience. More than a 100 of his works spanning five decades and more are being displayed at the Foundation premises. From bold point pen on paper to crayons and marker on paper, the exhibition offers a stunning array of expressions through different mediums. Subramanyan, who is also a designer, writer and teacher, is one of the few artists to work with all mediums and styles. An individualist, he chooses to not follow any particular art genre and has developed his own personal language to expand communication through art. “There is barely one medium or style he hasn’t tapped into, starting with terracotta sculpture, reverse paintings in acrylic, gouaches, making puppets and even illustrating children’s books,” said Mini Menon, from Collage Communications, who collaborated with the Seagull Foundation For The Arts in India to bring the exhibition to the UAE. The exhibition features his early sketches from the 1960s, black-and-white drawings from the 1980s, drawings of nature and figure studies through the 1990s, to gouaches less than a month old. “Many of Subramanyan’s works reveal his deep interest in mythology,” said Menon. “He likes to superimpose mythology on daily lives and uses humour to achieve the composition. Having travelled the world, his experiences influence his works,” she added. Ihsan Al Khateeb, an Iraqi fine artist who visited the exhibition because he was curious to experience and analyse first-hand the works of Subramanyan, said, “Subramanyan is an art school on his own”. Happy at having gotten the opportunity to see his works up close and personal. Al Khateeb commented, “After viewing his works, I believe he has an individual style. A lot of the sketches here can be transformed into massive paintings, but he chose to keep them simple because this is his style. Also, I see that some of his works here have been developed into almost a complete painting.” Menon points to the artistic zeal of Subramanyan, who despite his nonagenerian status, did not allow health to dictate his brush. “A 36 x 9 feet painting, which we couldn’t bring here, was completed by him, recently.” Hailing from the state of Kerala in India, Subramanyan is a ream of “history”, said Menon. “He played a big role in India’s freedom struggle, has actively contributed to the country’s Craft Council and worked as an art teacher in two highly reputed Indian universities.” Menon hopes the exhibition will enable people in the UAE to familiarise themselves with one of India’s giant artistic figures. Part of the proceedings from the sale of his art works go to charity and various foundations. By Mary Achkhanian

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