Surendran Nair
Surendran Nair Surendran Nair

Surendran Nair

Surendran Nair

Surendran Nair

b - 1956

Surendran Nair

Surendran Nair began his art practice with strongly realist pen and ink drawings, etchings and lithographs, and commemorated people from his immediate surroundings or literary heroes in his portraiture.

Born in Onkkoor, Kerala, Nair graduated in painting from College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum, in 1982, and studied printmaking from M. S. University, Baroda, in 1986. In the 1990s, he produced a large body of oil paintings he termed ‘corollary mythologies’ which led to a series of hand-coloured etchings titled The Labyrinth of Eternal Delight. These works are elaborate pictorial fictions composed of elements drawn from Greek mythology and Indian iconography. Nair reinvents mythological allegories as contemporary tales, giving some of them creative and extended titles, and creates two parallel narratives—visual and verbal/textual.

In 2000, Nair’s work, An Actor Rehearsing the Interior Monologue of Icarus, depicting a naked Icarus placed on top of an Ashoka Pillar, was to be exhibited at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, but courted controversy when it was subsequently rejected on grounds of being irreverent toward a national symbol, a rejection Nair contested as an artist with a right to respond to his environment with freedom.

In 2021, he was part of the exhibition, ‘Narrating from the Museum Archives and Collection: 10 years of KNMA’ to celebrate a decade of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, that turned ten in 2020. Nair’s works are in several public and private collections in India and abroad. He lives and works in Baroda.

‘Everything depends upon what you want to do, and what is the intention behind those imagery’



dag exhibitions

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

DAG, New Delhi, 2011-12

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

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

‘Indian Portraits: The Face of a People’

DAG, New Delhi and Mumbai, 2014

archival media

The Indian Post

17 July, 1988

Business Standard

15 December, 2010