Perceive the world of KG Subramanyan through his images of women

Women Seen and Remembered is a selection of KG Subramanyan’s drawings, paintings and sketches which are predominated by women. Subramanyan’s oeuvre is huge and diverse, with women forming a major part of his artistic enquiry. These exhibition presents a wonderful opportunity to get to know the renowned artist through the display of 300 works at Hutheesing Centre.

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Neena Naishadh on the opening day of Women Seen and Remembered art show

The evening hours of November 20,2018 witnessed the grand opening of the show of selected works of KG Subramanayan, the Padma Vibhushan recipient artist from Vadodara. Hosted by Neena Naishadh of Neekoee Foundation in association with The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, the majestic exhibition has on display 300 original drawings, paintings, and key sketches – all of women – spanning from the six-decade-long journey of the modern art reformist of India. After travelling to major cities of the nation, the two-week long art fiesta will be available for viewing in Ahmedabad, till December 2, 2018. Titled ‘Women Seen and Remebered’, the exhibition showcases Subramanyan’s work and artistic evolution through the imagery of women portrayed by him over decades.

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Art Entrepreneur Anil Relia who was a student of KG Subramanyan conversing with artist Nabibakhsh Mansoori at Hutheesing Visual Art Centre

The display of 300 artworks in the gallery is in chronological order, offering the viewer an opportunity to gauge the artists’ transformation over a long period of time. Viewing a singular subject of a particular artist, which is spread over a large period of time, is actually a challenge. The subject overwhelms you, but if one wanders longer in the gallery, one gets a sense of the beautiful visual language that exemplifies the artists life’s work. The artworks are portraying multiple facets of women, a lot of them sensual in nature, and yet they carry are non-voyeuristic in its visual depiction. Giriraj Kadia, Secretary, Hutheesing Centre explained, “how in this collection Mani Da‘s overlapping lines on paper portray his practice of human anatomy and at the same time provides a holistic – decade by decade – evolution of his perspectives.”

What caught my fancy were the miniature sized, 2×2 inch sketches. These small sized sketches are beautifully detailed, demonstrating the masters indepth understanding of human body. Crayons, watercolours, pen, pencil, acrylic – Mani Da has experimented with diverse mediums even in the smallest of the drawings.

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Sensual yet non-voyeuristic drawings of women by KG Subramanyan

After spending a playful childhood in the lush territory of Northern Kerala, KG Subramanyan aspired to be an economist. He was influenced by Gandhian ideology and fueled by patriotic fervour he actively involved himself in country’s freedom struggle.  He faced a ban and could not reserve admission in any public college, ran by the British during those times. This influences stayed with him, and he wore khadi, nearly all his life.

Young Subramanyan, found encouragement from great artist Nandlal Bose who invited him to join Santiniketan in West Bengal. At the ‘Bengal’s temple of art’, the legend formally moulded his aesthetics under the tutelage of doyens like Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij. Later in his life, Subramanyan’s calling brought him to Vadodara, which became his ‘karma bhoomi’ and for long he served at the Faculty of Fine Arts in MS University in Baroda. It was much later in his life, that he went back to Santiniketan. He is the founder member of The Baroda Group of artists, which consisted maestros like Jyoti Bhatt, Jeram Patel, NS Bendre and GR Santosh.

His modernist drawings and gentle teaching approach changed the lives of hundreds of students at Baroda as well as Bengal. He never ceased practicing figurative drawings that somehow narrated the socio-economic status of various Indian communities.

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A painting by KG Subramanyan at Women Seen and Remembered show

The event was further graced with a lecture by Padma Bhushan artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh on the topic of ‘World in Many Guises – The Art of KG Subramanyan‘. He spoke on his friendship with ‘Mani Da’ and the simplicity in his works. The talk happened on Sunday, November 25th. The show, a rare and overwhelming spectacle will remain open til December 2, 2018, at Hutheesing Centre, every day from 4 pm to 8 pm except Mondays.

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Multiple drawings of women within a single paper. Figurative art practices of KG Subramanyan at ‘Women Seen and Remembered’ show

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