Enchantment and Engagement

The Murals of K.G. Subramanyan

R. Siva Kumar


9.5 x12 inches, 222 pp. 2015

ISBN : 9780857423528

Rs  2500.00 (HB)
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£31.50 (HB)

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A keen observer of the relationships between art, environment and society in different traditions, K. G. Subramanyan believes that, besides embellishing them, murals have to transform the look of buildings and add to their personality. Like architecture, murals ought to relate to their environment and address needs that go beyond self-expression. Subramanyan thus harvests the expressive powers of visual conventions and the different kinds of sensuousness that visual images can invoke through his controlled use of language.

By employing a visual language or style that is not too loaded towards one meaning or emotion, he draws us into the image and nudges us to think. While over the years this has  become a pervasive aspect of his work, it began perhaps in his murals and the desire to make them readable at many levels—the desire to conceive art for public spaces which does not come saturated with meaning but is co-created by the artist and the reflective viewers who reinvent it with every engagement.

Chronologically and photographically documented here for the first time, along with a detailed introduction and a dialogue with the artist, are Subramanyan’s murals, from 1955 to the present, inviting us to engage at the same time as they enchant us with their timeless appeal and beauty.


K. G. Subramanyan, one of India’s most senior artists, has worked with diverse media and materials, exhibiting extensively both within and outside the country. He is known as much for his wide-ranging scholarship as for his artworks, which are full of wit, subversion, eroticism and critical social commentary. A major retrospective of his work was held at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, in 2003. He has been part of the arts faculty at M. S. University, Baroda, and is Professor Emeritus at Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.


R. Siva Kumar is an art historian and curator. He has authored over 15 books on modern   Indian art and curated several exhibitions  including Santiniketan: The Making of a    Contextual Modernism, the retrospectives  K. G. Subramanyan and Benodebehari, and The Last Harvest: Paintings of Rabindranath. He  is professor of Art History at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.