BENGALURU: Girls in festive mood, young Buddha and Radha-Krishna are among G Subramanian’s works at Art Houz’s Modernists of Bangalore. As always, these mixed-media works also display a childlike innocence.
This quality in the artist’s works is likely a reflection of his experience of working with kids. Subramanian took to teaching children in Saudi Arabia, also keeping his job as graphic designer, after he lost his nine-year-old daughter.
He says, “I would interact with them, and would develop childlike characters. I would paint young Buddha or Krishna. There’s childlike innocence in whatever I do.”
Subramanian equates art to ‘remembering my daughter’.
He took his passion for painting seriously after he won the Saudi National Award thrice, and in 2003, he decided to quit his job and move to Bengaluru.
He has also won several other accolades. Sadia 6th Malwan GCC Countries Biennale Award (2003) and AIFACS Award, Delhi (2000) are some laurels he has bagged.
The former graphic designer finds it easiest to work with paper.
He says, “I do figurative. I like painting. It makes me happy. I wanted to do something different and unique. Many artists do oil painting but I am comfortable with this medium.”
Super-imposed against an abstract background, his iconic collage forms stand out vividly. The silhouettes of gods and goddesses or little girls, recurring motifs in his works, are filled with hand-torn magazine images, later worked upon using acrylic paint.
Colour is the predominant element of his work. “Everyone likes colours. It is appealing to children as well. That is why most of my works hang in children’s rooms,” he explains.
He paints characters with closed eyes to depict meditation. He says, “When the eyes are open, there could be many disturbances. Another reason I prefer closed eyes is because I feel it is divine.”
Art has its own language, he believes. “You need to keep several elements in mind while developing your work. Composition is very important,” he says.
Subramanian was born in 1952 in Thandavankulam, Tamil Nadu, and studied in Government College of Art and Crafts.
His father Gopalaswamy Nainar was a theatre artiste in Tamil Nadu, known for his portrayal of female mythological characters. As a child, Subramanian would accompany the actor to all his shows, and observe the artistes as they put on their make up.
Even then, he was drawn to colours, and these childhood memories are an inspiration, says the artist.
When he moved to Bengaluru, galleries mostly refused him.
“Popular artists like (S G) Vasudev and Yusuf (Arakkal) dominated the art scene,” he recalls. “Around that time, a new gallery, Kynkyny had come up. I knew the family and they agreed to display my work at their month-long inaugural show.”
This gave him the much-needed break in the city.
He sees ‘good works’ by other artists challenges as well as learning experiences.
“There are many up and coming young artists. I buy and collect their art works. When I see works better than mine, I am shocked,” he says candidly. “I go pore over them, and think how can I make mine better. This is how it is for every artist.”
He would like to dabble in other media, like metal sculptures and painting with just a brush.
“I wouldn’t like to go on doing only mixed media. But I am not sure when I’ll take the plunge,” he says.