Skip links

K G Subramanyan

Kerala, India

KG Subramanyan, fondly known as Manida, was an eminent artist, art teacher, designer, writer and philosopher of art. Subramanyan defies bracketing and stands a little apart on the Indian art scene. Drawn to the nationalist movement early in life he developed an ideological perspective on culture even before he went to art school. Educated at Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, one of the nerve centers of pre-independence cultural resurgence under artists who were exercised about the larger questions of cultural practices, he was geared to take a broader view of life and art. This separated him from his contemporaries in post-independent India who were largely guided by a passionate commitment to European modernist styles and modernist individualism. Working in intellectual isolation it took him time to shape his ideas and give them visual articulation.   Subramanyan was born (1924) in Kannur, Kerala. The turning point of his life, as an artist, came when he visited Santiniketan to study in Kala Bhavan, the art faculty of Visva Bharati University (1944-48). In 1951 he became a lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts in M.S. University in Baroda. He went to study briefly in London at the Slade School of Art as a British Council scholar in 1956. He did a short stint in New York as a Rockefeller Fellow in 1966. In 1980, Subramanyan went back to Santiniketan to teach in his alma mater Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University, in his capacity as a professor in painting, which he continued till he retired in 1989. In the same year, he was made a Professor Emeritus of Visva Bharati.   In recognition of his varied contributions to the development of Indian art he was awarded the Shiromani Kala Puraskar by the Government of India in 1994. The Indian Government has also honoured him with a Padma Shri (1975), Padma Bhushan (2006) and a Padma Vibhushan in 2012.   At the age of 92, Subramanyan passed away in Vadodara in 2016.


Gouache and charcoal on paper 15" x 11"
Return to top of page