In artist K Damodaran’s canvases numerous subjects took myriad forms. Blending colours and textures, his abstracts were an expression of his mindscape and compositions that urged viewers to form their own interpretations. On June 15, with his demise, Indian art lost one of its prominent abstract artists. Keeping unwell for some months, Damodaran died at his Mayur Vihar residence in Delhi.
“I really admired the way he used colours and spaces. Unfortunately, he did not get the credit that he deserved,” says art critic Prayag Shukla.
Born in 1934 in Thalassery, Damodaran’s initial influences were his surroundings. A student of art at Government College of Arts and Crafts in Madras, in the ’60s he was part of the group of young artists who were close to KCS Paniker, founder of Cholamandal Artists’ Village and leading figure in the Madras Art Movement. “This was when there was a revival happening, with emphasis on Indian roots… His (Damodaran’s) works were different. He was painting a landscape of his own entity and land,” says artist Sumedh Rajendran.
In a career spanning over five decades, his initial experiments with figuration soon gave way to abstracts. Based in Delhi, his works travelled to exhibitions across the world and are part of prestigious collections, including the National Gallery of Modern Art.
In a memoir dedicated to his wife, artist TK Padmini who died in 1969 — reported published in Malayala Nadu and reproduced online — Damodaran wrote: “One cannot continue to be a painter if he is merely driven by the temptation to amass wealth or an irresistible eagerness to become famous”. Recalling his conversations with the artist, Shukla says, “He would often express his displeasure regarding conversations of commerce in art.”
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