Women Seen and Heard’, a retrospective exhibition, gives viewers glimpses into the work of late artist K G Subramanyan
To present a retrospective exhibition of a towering artist like K G Subramanyan (1924 to 2016) can be daunting. Kolkata-based ‘The Seagull Foundation for the Arts’ has brought to hyderabad an exhibition of drawings and sketches by the master artist, titled ‘Women Seen and Heard’. Arranged chronologically across the halls of Kalakriti art gallery, this exhibition lets viewers walk through the decade-wise presentation and grasp the evolution of the artist, and appeals to both beginners and art connoisseurs.
The Seagull Foundation for the Arts has travelled with ‘Women Seen and Heard’ to other cities before, presenting over 300 drawings, paintings and murals by the late painter on the female form. Kalakriti displays more than 150 artworks, with one section devoted to the sale of the artist’s drawings. K G Subramanyan’s oeuvre extended to sculptures, murals and printmaking, but this exhibition focuses on drawings and sketches.
A handful of the artist’s early drawings from the 1950s are visual re-interpretations of models, the technique employed by art students to observe and render the subject in their creative artistic streak.
The women as perceived by the artist blend in elements from myths, folklore, tradition, and are also presented with wit and eroticism.
K G Subramanyan is hailed for emphasising sensuousness, which is evident in a few of his drawings from the 60s and 70s. He depicts women from varied spheres in different decades, contextualising them to the changing societal and political scenario. There are portrayals of women who seem slumped, some with their eyes tearing up and expressing vulnerability and helplessness. Elsewhere, they display stark sensuality. As we journey through the images, the women appear more assertive and comfortable in their form and sexuality. The many moods shift from being playful and coquettish to that of a nurturer and later the fiery Durga.
Some of the drawings are deceptively simple where the minimalistic lines convey the body language of the subjects while others are the result of bold strokes.
In the post-2000 section, the women are portrayed with the power to alter the gender discourse. Borrowing from the myths, she could be goddess Durga and wield weapons or be a manifestation of goddess Parvati. The bright, colourful lines and occasional splashes of colour make an impression.
The exhibition is also a study of the artist’s techniques with different brushes and pens, as he skilfully uses a variety of media – ink on paper, watercolours and even crayons.
Facts about the artist
- K G Subramanyan was a painter, sculptor and muralist. Born in north Kerala in 1924, he studied economics at Presidency College, Madras, and was involved in the freedom struggle.
- He was imprisoned and then debarred from government colleges.
- He joined Kala Bhavan at Visva Bharati in Santiniketan in 1944 and his lifelong engagement with art began.
- He was awarded Padma Vibushan for his contribution towards art in 2012.
‘Women Seen and Remembered’ will be on view till November 11 at Kalakriti art gallery, Banjara Hills.