The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan

  • The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan
  • The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan
  • The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan
  • The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan
  • The Self Portrait: K G Subramanyan
View the Show on our Artsy page – Click Here


Over the years Art Heritage and The Seagull Foundation for the Arts have brought to Delhi audiences, for appreciation and collection, seminal works of the prolific poet, painter, philosopher, pedagogue, K. G. Subramanyan (1924-2016) – ‘Seeking a Poetry of the Real’ (2017-18) showcased his political works and ‘Women: Seen and Remembered’ (2018-19) a momentous exhibition that captured in detail his study of the female form over the course of 60 years. In this exhibition, ‘The Self Portrait: Early & Rare Woodblock Prints, Sketches & Watercolours’, Subramanyan sketches himself at different phases of his artistic career, revealing a lifelong preoccupation of capturing the ‘inner self’.

In his works it was not uncommon for K G Subramanyan to often disguise himself, at times appearing as the protagonist, sometimes antagonist or more interestingly, as an older onlooker (as in his Innayat Khan series). The works in this show span across 40 years, from the 1950’s (pencil and charcoal) to the late 1980s (watercolours), capturing a man aging. Rarely drawn in profile, Subramanyan’s self portraits are rather uncanny as the artist shows himself looking directly out of the canvas. Is it him looking into a mirror seeking to find himself, or is he making a bid to connect with us, his audience through his intent gaze?

Sketching daily over a lifetime, in multiple mediums, Subramanyan has left behind an enormous body of work in the form of drawings. Akin to the riyaz/practice that musicians and dancers undertake daily, sketching allows the artist to hone his technical skills in the adroit handling of both his subject matter and his medium. In the case of Subramanyan such consistent practice led him to develop the short, quick strokes used in sketching, into what became his signature style. His works appeal precisely because their energy derives from this kind of spontaneous, improvisational treatment, giving his works the immediacy and communicative thrust of live performance.

Reflecting his strong belief in Swadeshi, Subramanyan was always keen to explore older Indian craft traditions. Here we find rare examples of his early woodblock prints of the 1940’s, along with rare linocuts and lithographs. Supporting reproducible art like printmaking, Subramanyan supported the idea that art should be both accessible and affordable to the common man. Watercolours of women – a subject that predominated his works – and exquisite drawings on scraperboard are also included in the show.


26 Oct - 15 Dec 2020


K G Subramanyan


Drawings, Watercolours & Prints