K. G. Subramanyan

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K. G. Subramanyan

Eminent artist, art teacher, designer, writer, and philosopher of art, Kalpathi Ganpathi “KG” Subramanyan, also called Manida, is a major presence on the Indian art scene. Born in 1924 into a Tamil Brahmin family at Kuthuparambu in north Kerala. His father, Ganapati Iyer was a surveyor in the revenue department and like many others of his community he was a connoisseur of Carnatic music. He took young Subramanyan to concerts, and at one point he even hoped that his son would become a musician. His mother, Alamellu, was also fond of the performing arts and would often be accompanied by Subramanyan to the performances of harikatha singers and the plays of itinerant theatre groups. As a child, Subramanyan was irresistibly drawn to art objects and events without knowing them to be such. “I saw the painting and sculpture in the temples, temple chariots, or houses with great relish; I marveled at the spectacular rigs of ritual dancers, and the painting and paraphernalia of ritual worship.” Some of them like the painted reliefs of the local temple were a part of his everyday environment. These inspired him to try his hand at painting, make small laterite carvings, and indulge in other artistic activities, without harboring any ambition of becoming professional artist. But they did make a deep impression on him.

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