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

91-year-old pioneer is among the most respected artists in India

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Visitors at the opening of the Sketches, Scribbles, Drawings art exhibition by K.G. Subramanyan at Al Owais Cultural Foundation in Deira. The exhibition covers more than five decades of the artist’s career and features more than 100 works.
Gulf News

Dubai: 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.

 

Fact Box

What: Sketches, Scribbles, Drawings, an exhibition of art by KG Subramanyan.

Where: Sultan Al Owais Cultural Foundation, Rigga Street, Dubai.

Duration: April 15-18, 2015

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