K K Hebbar

K K Hebbar (1911-1996)
Sankho Chaudhuri’s residence, Vadodara, 1957-59

Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar was born in South Karnataka in a village called Kittingiri in 1911. His father making clay idols during festivals, inspired the young child to make toys and develop an inclination towards the arts. He would also try to replicate the mythological images of Ravi Varma using charcoal on the walls of his house. He formally pursued art at the J. J. School of Art, Mumbai, which shaped his individual style. In 1949, he studied at the Academie Julian in Paris, and came across some of the best works of Western art. However, Hebbar felt a strong urge to paint in a genre which drew from traditional Indian art. Most of his work carries compositions and landscapes rooted in the Indian sensibilities. He learned the dance form Kathak to understand rhythm, and created his own unique style, rhythm and colour. He belonged to a generation of artists that was self- conscious about their national identity in thought and attitude.

His body of work starting from 1946 and covering more or less a decade has been influential in the development of modern Indian art and occupies an important place in Indian art history. He has also participated in the 1955 Venice Biennale, and the 1959 Sao Paulo Biennale. He was a corresponding Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin, between 1975 to 1993. Hebbar was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1961, Padma Bhushan in 1989, and the Maharashtra Shasan Gourav Puraskar in 1990. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 85 in Mumbai.