A.P. SANTHANARAJ  (1932 - 2009)

Early Abstract Painter of South India

A formidable artist of the South Indian art movement, the Late Professor A.P. Santhanaraj has influenced major artists as one of the key practitioners of abstract-figuration in Madras after Independence.

A.P. Santhanaraj bw portrait.jpg
 

THE ART OF A.P. SANTHANARAJ

Manuelpillai Fine Arts are proud to present a series of works by the Late Professor A.P. Santhanaraj, a prominent figure in the Madras School Movement after Indian Independence.

'The Embrace' (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 50 inches unframed, SANT0013
'The Embrace' (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 50 inches unframed, SANT0013

Love-making is a governing artistic interest of Santhanaraj. Often as in here, this is because intertwined bodies create angles, shapes, negative space and formal relationships that intrigue the artist.

'Untitled' (Portrait of a Woman) (1962) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 14 x 22 inches unframed,
'Untitled' (Portrait of a Woman) (1962) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 14 x 22 inches unframed,

Achieved in felt tip pen, this is a stunning example of Santhanaraj's use of abstract shapes to evolve a figure from the light space of the paper. The artist saw this emergence (that would take him by surprise often) as nothing less than the hand of God.

'Kodimaram' (1998) by A.P. Santhanaraj, oil on card, 18 x 23 inches unframed, SANT0004
'Kodimaram' (1998) by A.P. Santhanaraj, oil on card, 18 x 23 inches unframed, SANT0004

Kodimaram' literally means "flag pole." In a temple, this is placed between the Rajagopuram and the Sanctum sanctorum. It is made of wood, cladded with brass and with or without gold coating. In this stunning oil pastel painting, the pole stands central in the work shedding light outward amongst the un-temple-like structures. Figures move toward the light in the foreground.

'Raja Rishi' (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 40 inches unframed, SANT0012
'Raja Rishi' (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 40 inches unframed, SANT0012

Love-making is a governing artistic interest of Santhanaraj. Often as in here, this is because intertwined bodies create angles, shapes, negative space and formal relationships that intrigue the artist. Here the artist depicts a King and his courtesan or queen in the throes of rapture.

'Girl and the Parrots' (undated) by A.P. Santhanaraj, pen and ink on paper, 22 x 23 inches unframed,
'Girl and the Parrots' (undated) by A.P. Santhanaraj, pen and ink on paper, 22 x 23 inches unframed,

An enigmatic work by Santhanarj for many reasons. One can almost see the technique in this work, the duration of time taken to create, in the way that the woman emerges from these abstract forms placed randomly on the paper. A parrot sits on one of these shapes as if it is a three-dimensional object, its foot dangling over the edge.

'The Legacy of Lord Jesus' (2006) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches unframed, S
'The Legacy of Lord Jesus' (2006) by A.P. Santhanaraj, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches unframed, S

This stunning large canvas is in essence an abstraction of The Holy Communion. We see a table emerge from Santhanaraj's curious methodology of pre-painting. Upon it the circle of the Eucharist, a goblet of wine and perhaps a cloth folded to aside. Lines and arrows here are as much part of the abstract process as symbols of the power of the ceremony.

'Untitled (Kneeling nude)' (1971) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 9 x 11 inches unframed, SANT004
'Untitled (Kneeling nude)' (1971) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 9 x 11 inches unframed, SANT004

This early piece shows the artist at his very best creating contorted (but accurate) figural form from abstract shapes. I enjoy the dots used by the artist to represent necklaces and other ornamentation

'Untitled (Nude at stage III)' (1996) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 14.5 x 16 inches unframed,
'Untitled (Nude at stage III)' (1996) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 14.5 x 16 inches unframed,

One of the true treasures of the collection, this drawing is a stunning example of Santhanaraj, the teacher. This work must be part of a teaching session where this is the third stage of abstraction where lines are slowly giving way to a figurative finish. Previous drawings in this series would have been more 'absract in attempt' as the artist writes next to the drawing.

'Untitled' (Profile) (1992) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 7.5 x 8.5 inches unframed, SANT0040
'Untitled' (Profile) (1992) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 7.5 x 8.5 inches unframed, SANT0040

A mysterious profile of woman, her face in shadow and her head covered by a shawl or hood.

'Untitled' (Embracing couple) (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 15 x 21.5 inches unframed, S
'Untitled' (Embracing couple) (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 15 x 21.5 inches unframed, S

Here lines inform the viewer of the embracing couple more than the abstract shapes that float sparingly around the image. As we follow lines, two major areas are highlighted: the circle of embrace in which the arms are the lower section and the heads touching are the upper section; and second, the lower body that forms the second area, the legs on either side of the composition creating harmony and unity.

'Untitled' (Veiled woman) (undated) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 13 x 22 inches unframed, SANT
'Untitled' (Veiled woman) (undated) by A.P. Santhanaraj, ink on paper, 13 x 22 inches unframed, SANT

A rare work on paper in colour in the collection by the late A.P. Santhanaraj.

'Untitled' (Two figures) (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, 14.5 x 21.5 inch unframed, SANT0029
'Untitled' (Two figures) (2007) by A.P. Santhanaraj, 14.5 x 21.5 inch unframed, SANT0029

Here two women are in conversation, one nude and the other clothed. Lines possibly imply the nature of the dialogue: lyrical, constantly tangential and excited.