Artist Profile
Profile of Jagdish Swaminathan

Jagdish Swaminathan made his presence felt in the Capital's art world in the'50s and'60s mainly as an art critic and theoretician of art. Born in Simla in 1929, Swaminathan in his early days joined the Communist Party of India and worked as a journalist and art critic for Left magazines for about a decade till the mid '50s. He had brief spells of art education at the Delhi Polytechnic and in Warsaw, Poland, and in the late 50's he decided to become a full-tirne artist. In August 1962, Swaminathan and some other artist founded the Group 1890, the mystifying number being the house number of Jayant and Jyoti Pandya at Bhavnagar. The manifesto of the Group 1890, evidently written by Swaminathan, was an attack on 'vulgar naturalism, 'pastoral idealism of the Bengal School, and against the imposition of 'hybrid mannerism' of European modernism. The manifesto urged the creative artists to see phenomena in their virginal state'. The Group had its first and last show in 1963. However, his perception of this virginal state of phenomena he tried out in his paintings, creating an alternative pictorial space in dividing purely conceptual landscapes in bright colour fields on which appeared mountains, stretches of water trees, diagonally levitating stones with an' archetypal bird form. Painted with captivating simplicity his paintings explored the pictorial possibilities of his limited imagery which were emblematic of elements necessary for man's survival on earth and interpretatively the numerous permutations and combinations of the imagery and bright colours suggested the ascent of man's inner being leaving the gross and the sullied. In his paintings of the '90's, Swaminathan broke away from his earlier well ordered colour-geometry and brush paintings, going back to retrieve the pristine freshness of symbols as used in the tribal air applying the pigments with his fingers.

In 1966, he published the monthly magazine, Contra in collaboration with the famous Mexican poet and ambassador m India Octavio Paz challenging the prevailing views of modernity through polemical articles on art and aesthetics. In 1968 he was awarded the Nehru Fellowship to work on a project titled The Significance of the Traditional Numen in Contemporary Art. He was a member of the International Jury of the Sao Paolo Biennale and served on the board of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. He was also a trustee of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, and in 198 1, the Government of Madhya Pradesh invited him to set up the art museum Roopanker at Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. As the Director of Roopankar, Swaminathan served till 1990. He held about thirty one- man shows and participated in many national and international exhibitions.

Swaminathan died in 1994.

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Past Exhibitions (5)
Jagdish  Swaminathan