L. Munuswamy
L. Munuswamy L. Munuswamy L. Munuswamy L. Munuswamy L. Munuswamy

L. Munuswamy

L. Munuswamy

L. Munuswamy

1934 - 2020

L. Munuswamy

A dynamic artist, intellectual, and educator,
L. Munuswamy was a prominent practitioner within the Madras Art Movement who made abstraction a personal language in his artistic vocabulary.

What made Munuswamy's works appealing was their international character, his individualistic vision and single-minded pursuit in his artistic endeavours. Regarded as innovative and experimental, the introvert artist had a highly representative career, particularly when seen in the context of India in the 1950s.

It was a decade when abstraction was seen as a movement, when the post-Independence milieu was marked by economic and cultural progress, growth of patronage from commercial houses, galleries, institutions, collectors, and foreign visitors.

Belonging to a family of idol-makers, Munuswamy joined Government School of Art and Craft, Madras, on the insistence of his grandfather in 1956, graduating with a diploma in painting in 1961. He joined the faculty as a teacher—later appointed its principal—in 1971, retiring from the post in 1986. As a student, Munuswamy was mentored by three distinctive personalities—D. P. Roy Chowdhury, S. Dhanapal and K. C. S. Paniker—all of whom impacted his art profoundly.

His engagement with line, colour and space led him to consciously choose the language of abstraction, indirectly allowing the regional character a meaningful role. Setting his gaze on the human form to mediate his abstract expressions, Munuswamy’s artistic language remains unparalleled.

‘How a person interprets my work is not important. He can call it a landscape or anything. I enjoy using lines and the rhythm that comes out of this’



dag exhibitions

The ‘Manifestations’ series of 20th Century Indian Art, Editions V, VII, XI

DAG, New Delhi, 2011-14

‘The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art’

DAG, New Delhi, 2013; New York, 2015-16; Mumbai, 2016

‘Indian Abstracts: An Absence of Form’

DAG, New Delhi, 2014; Mumbai and New York, 2015

‘Indian Portraits: The Face of a People’

DAG, New Delhi, 2013; Mumbai, 2014

‘Madras Modern: Regionalism and Identity’

DAG, New Delhi, 2019; Mumbai, 2019

notable collections

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

State Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai

Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

archival media

The Indian Express

27 February 2005