signed in Tamil (lower left)
acrylic on canvas
29 7/8 x 29 7/8 in. (75.8 x 75.8 cm.)

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Lot Essay

K.G. Subramanyan is an esteemed scholar, prolific writer, revered teacher and skilled painter. His works are the product of careful studying and internalizing of the traditional styles of Pata, Kalighat and the meticulous craft of Indian miniature painting. The result is a concerted effort to blur and demythologize the established distinction between artist and artisan. The craftsman, the artist, the theorist and the teacher become attributes and skills not limiting descriptions.

Subramanyan draws upon all of these qualities in his painting, simultaneously championing the figure of the craftsman and the story teller. He creates fantastical, complex images that are steeped in myth and narrative. These works are timeless, at once modern and ancient, they evoke the potency of primitivism but implement this language in such a way that it reverberates pertinently into the present.

As seen in Untitled (lot 570), Family Group (lot 571) and Maya Mriga (lot 572), Subramanyan explores the hierarchical relationship between man and beast. The human figures interact with the mythological creatures as equals, neither master nor servant, they are kin. These works are drenched with a sense of unity and community as families seem to exist across species, blurring conventional divisions.

Subramanyan studied under Benode Behari Mukherjee, Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij at Santiniketan. The enduring pertinence of Subramanyan's work is evident in Chaitanya Sambrani's inclusion of his work in the collaborative 2005 exhibition, Edge of Desire, held at University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive, Montalvo Arts Center and Asia Society Museum, New York, where his work was displayed along with much younger artists Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya, and Sharmila Samant making him the only artist of his generation in the exhibition.

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