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The eternal feminist

Art Heritage is showcasing the new works of 86-year-old painter-thinker-teacher, K.G. Subramanyan, a student of the ‘Shantiniketan school’ of Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ram Kinker, who retired as professor in painting of Visva Bharati.

art and culture Updated: Sep 17, 2010 23:28 IST
Paramita Ghosh

Art Heritage is showcasing the new works of 86-year-old painter-thinker-teacher, K.G. Subramanyan, a student of the ‘Shantiniketan school’ of Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ram Kinker, who retired as professor in painting of Visva Bharati.

An Art Heritage 1984-85 catalogue describes Subramanyan as a “a modern traditionalist”, whose paintings had resurrected, “with effortless abandon and gaiety, the skill and trenchant satire of the Kalighat artists. Beneath the humour is the dry mockery of the sceptic”.

He was a bridge between the crafts-oriented Shantiniketan and the artists of the Baroda School for whom the pursuit of modernism had institutional backing.

Key to the appreciation of the 74 paintings (made between 2007-2008) on display is the artist’s portrayal of the ‘eternal feminine.’ There is no idealisation of the female, whether as woman, mother or goddess.

Goddesses ride the bull. Women are shown to stomp on men. And the relations between the sexes, captured in lewd and ironic gestures, points to the double vision of Subramanyan’s paintings. Says Ebrahim Alkazi, director, Art Heritage, pointing to a painting: “His subjects are drawn from domestic life and the life of the nation as a whole. Look at how the man is shown to attack the bull and the woman then attacks the man. It’s provocative and unsettling.”

Till Sept 30 at Art Heritage, Triveni ground floor, 205 Tansen Marg. For details, call: 23719470