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From Economics at Presidency College, Madras to the Quit India movement


Discovering the art of the rest of the world
KG Subramanyan Artist
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When I went to this school in Mahé then we had a youth club in the library in [unclear]. So when I was in the sort of Fourth or Fifth Form, at the time we were not yet taken to final exam. I used to be a frequent visitor to that library. And that is where I discovered the art of the rest of the world. Because it was financed by the French government and they sent in various kinds of magazines there, which are art reproductions. And for that time, in a sort of small place, it was not easy to come across this. I particularly remember a kind of a polyglot magazine called L’Illustration, which had a sort of an art section every time. And then it was there that I found that there are all kinds of art. There were reproductions of African art, Japanese prints and things of that kind. At the same time, this reading room subscribed to certain of the magazines that were quite influential at the time. Like the Modern Review from Calcutta. And through that I came to know a little about the world scene, because it used to always have reviews of the cultural happenings all over. And also the political sort of atmosphere in both Europe and India. And Ramananda Chatterjee took part there, I was one of those people who tried to inform people about what it is to be a nation and things like that. And then a big part of their exposure was of what Rabindranath did and his institution. In fact, I came to know about Nandalal Bose through little drawings that used to be here. Well at that time, too, I didn’t have any notion that I’ll at one time sort of end up there.  After I finished what they called the intermediate examination at the end of the year, I sort of applied for higher studies, an honours degree and ended up in the Presidency College, Madras.

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: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 10 September 2010