Krishna's Cosmos - The Creativity of Krishna Reddy: Artist, Sculptor and Teacher

Ratnottama Sengupta's new book, titled Krishna's Cosmos (The Creativity of Krishna Reddy: Artist, Sculptor, Teacher) is a study in the creativity of a master. It's a portrayal of a world-famous printmaker with a message.

Krishna Reddy's method of printing numerous colors from a single metal plate is considered to be a revolution in printmaking. The book highlights his greatness as a printmaker and goes on to trace his artistic journey. As the author narrates: "A young student at Santiniketan was studying a tree, to unravel how the petals part. Walking past him, Nandalal Bose said: "If you persist, the tree will accept you in its shade and even let you walk in." That had set off Krishna Reddy on his artistic quest."

Apart from offering an in-depth look in his artistic journey, Ratnottama Sengupta documents the milestones in his illustrious career. Sengupta describes Krishna Reddy as "a legend in his lifetime" and rightly so. Santiniketan is among the many universities to have him as an artist in residence. A museum in Bangalore devotes a wing to his prints. Paris and London, Ljubljaa and Venice, Australia and Argentina, Morocco and China - biennales and triennales boast his retrospectives. Solo shows, multiple workshops, lectures, publications, and portfolios.

"Krishna Reddy's life is buzzing with activity. For Krishna, it is not enough to produce his art; one is responsible for sharing one's knowledge too," Ratnottama Sengupta mentions. In an attempt to unravel the layers of creativity and unfold the greatness of the artist for whom and his students alike the creativity is in itself a process of learning, the author notes: "It (the creativity) enables an observer to peer into the innermost essence of things and ponder on the universe in constant upheaval. The inward life of the cosmos itself is brought before us - all through his viscosity prints."

The book depicts how the exploration of nature beyond the limitations of the visible world developed into a - spiritual curiosity about the cosmos. That in turn led to devising ways to overcome technical difficulties in creating icons of distilled beauty, which reduced the appearances of objects to their pure and essential forms.

The book tells us how Krishna Reddy worked a revolution in printmaking by discovering this method of printing numerous colors from a single metal plate. Experiments in the possibilities of simultaneous color printing remained unpredictable until Krishna analyzed the oil contents of inks and effected ways of controlling that. The impact was a reliable viscosity print: graphic artists could now work with the intensity of tones and range of colors in a single print. It's a must read for connoisseurs of art, especially the budding printmakers.

The book-release coincided with an exhibition of the artist' works at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. (Dates: 15 - 31 January 2003)

The artist
Krishna Reddy has gained international recognition for his painting sculpture and engraving. Born in Chitoor, Andhra Pradesh on 15 July 1925, he studied art at Santiniketan, West Bengal. He spent most of his impressionable years, studying art in London, Paris and Milan. From 1951 to 1952 he studied art at the Slade School of Fine Arts, University of London. Later, he worked under Hayter in Paris as Associate Director of the printmaking studio Atelier 17 where he first developed his unique printmaking technique. He participated in the International Symposium of sculpture held at St Margarathain, Austria in 1962 and in Montreal, Canada in 1964.

There is a definite thematic and stylistic links between his prints and sculptures. The latter include works in bronze, stone, terracotta and marble. His works in marble have a feeling of elegance and poise. Reddy's works, at most times, come from the real. The 'Clown' series, for instance, grew out of a visit to the circus along with his daughter. Among his popular large-scale sculptures is Aspiration, which was executed in Canada.

The artist counts print maker Giacommetti as a major influence on him, one that resulted in his now familiar vocabulary of vertically extended images of clowns and women. Besides, his early years at Santiniketan and the time that he spent with sculptors Henry Moore and Zadkine changed the way he approached both printmaking and sculpture.

Reddy has written a comprehensive reference on the art of printmaking, a book that doesn't expect the reader to know a lot, but at the same time, doesn't omit any technical detail. He talks about the necessity of simplification, of exploring the very essence of nature in one of the essays.

Awarded the Padmashree in 1972, Reddy was also one of the guest Invitees to the Silvermime National Print Biennial in USA. He has served on numerous award juries, ranging from the Society of American Graphic Artists to the Lalit Kala Akademi of India and is the recipient of awards and commissions in India and throughout the world. He has lectured and participated in seminars throughout the USA, Europe and India. His work is featured in leading art publications and was commissioned by the international symposiums held in Canada and Austria in 1962 and 1964.

He has exhibited in international art shows around the world and has held one-man shows throughout North America Europe and the Far East. The inclusion of his work in the leading Museums of Modern Art as well as In many National Gallery of North America, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and India establishes his unique position in the world of art.

The author
A natural writer with a keen interest in the arts, Ratnottama Sengupta has been writing for newspapers and journals; participating in discussions on the electronic media; teaching mass communication students, and curating art exhibitions. She has written on Hindi films for the Encyclopedia Britannica; edited volumes on Indian cinema and on sculpture; served on the National Film Awards jury and she has also won a National award. Having widely traveled through Europe, Asia and Australia, she is currently editing an Encyclopedia on Culture, and translating 'Dekhi Nai Phire', a biography of Ram Kinkar Baij.

The publishers
Mapin are reputed publishers of titles dealing with Indian art and culture. Some of the titles of well-documented and deeply researched books by Mapin are: Indian Art & Connoisseurship (Essays in honor of Douglas Barrett) Edited by John Guy: This is a compilation of 25 essays written in honor of Douglas Barrett, former keeper of Indian Art at the British Museum. The Painted Towns of Shekhawati by Ilay Cooper describes the extraordinary murals to be found on buildings within these towns, covering subjects from airplanes to religions. A synthesis of Eastern and Western idioms. Bridal Durries of India by Ann Shankar and Jenny Housego is a richly illustrated book that showcases the designs and motifs in use, which are part of an illustrative language that goes back to the ancient civilizations of the region. Woven by women villagers of Northern India, imaginative in design, bold in their use of color, these durries are largely unknown outside the area in which they originated. Sri Aurobindo on Indian Art (Selections from his Writings with Photographs by Elisabeth Beck) presents Sri Aurobindo's extensive writings. The volume entitled "The Foundations of Indian Culture" deals exclusively with India's civilization, its religion and spirituality, its art and literature and its politics. The part on art contains three outstanding chapters on architecture and sculpture, where, with his deep insight he explains their background and meaning and how they have to be seen and understood from within. "Indian art in fact is identical in its spiritual aim and principle with the rest of Indian Culture."

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