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Travelling to Santiniketan and being searched by the police


Release from prison, Gopal Reddy and going to Santiniketan
KG Subramanyan Artist
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By the time I got out of prison, I had seen two sides of the whole area and many of the people I reacted with of my own age group. We thought in terms of ideas of transforming the world, just like that. Then there were some of the people who came from various parts of the country who knew how to take advantage of the situation and who, when they got into. I mean we used to have certain groups doing cooking, serving ourselves, things of that kind. I see that even in prison there are people who try to exploit the situation for their own benefit. And there were some people whom I still remember, who are very refined and educated, and one of them really was called Gopal Reddy. Gopal Reddy was some kind, I mean, in Andhra Pradesh, he was a leader of Congress. Then later he came when the Congress government took over, he became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and later ended up, at one time, as the Governor of Bengal. Now Gopal Reddy had studied at Santiniketan. So I knew more about Santiniketan through him. And then he used to have a sort of a small group within the area where he taught Tagore songs, especially the group songs to people. Now when I got out of prison so I was in two minds: one whether I would go into the sort of political scene and be a kind of an activist. And or should I continue my studies. But continuing my studies was not possible because I was the only person there who came from a government college, the Presidency College. So I was thrown out for 3 years. So within 3 years no institution could [inaudible] while the other didn’t have that. In fact some of my friends who came out at that time later continued their studies and came to hold fairly high positions. One of them became the Chief Secretary of the Madras State, another is still alive, he retired as the Additional Secretary of Kerala State. And there was someone who entered the medical services, he’s still there, retired somewhere, he’s a Muslim. Like that they did, but in my case it was a different thing. First of all, even if I wanted I couldn’t go to Devi Prasad’s school because it was a government college. The other thing is that by that time I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to go to a place where I’ll have a sort of freedom. The amount I had known about Santiniketan was very heartening.  So but then I couldn’t tell this to my brother. My brother is not the first brother I talked about who studied in Mahé. It’s the next one, he was a police officer. And he guessed that would be a kind of a thing I’d enjoy doing. So he wrote to Nandalal Bose directly without even telling me. So I suddenly get a telegram from there in I think February 1944 saying come over. He hadn’t seen any work of mine, he hadn’t seen anything. Probably he should have written something that persuaded him to take this decision. So that’s how I went to Santiniketan.

KG Subramanyan (1924-2016) was an Indian artist. A graduate of the renowned art college of Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan, Subramanyan was both a theoretician and an art historian whose writings formed the basis for the study of contemporary Indian art. His own work, which broke down the barrier between artist and artisan, was executed in a wide range of media and drew upon myth and tradition for its inspiration.

Listeners: Timothy Hyman

Timothy Hyman is a graduate of Slade School of Fine Art, London, in which he has also taught. In 1980 and 1982, he was Visiting Professor in Baroda, India. Timothy Hyman has curated many significant art exhibitions and has published articles and monographs on both European and Indian artists.

Duration: 4 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 10 September 2010