ARTICLE: I am a restless soul

29th July 2014

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.” Read more

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