Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni (1916 - 1994)
Oil on Canvas
19 x 23.5 in.
Signed in English lower right
Considered a mentor by fellow post-independence Modernists such as M. F. Husain and S. H. Raza, K. S. Kulkarni’s now rare early works, such as Fields from the 1940s exhibited here, primarily drew upon pastoral scenes from the world of the Indian peasant and everyday pastoral life. Although his subject matter in these early works was often traditional, his embracing of psychological over realist portraiture along with his unique focus on heightened plasticity of form led to a highly individualized pictorial language that set his work firmly apart from prevailing trends of the time. In Fields, exhibited here, we also see Kulkarni’s masterful ability to transform an entire picture by a single defining element such as the red skirt worn by the second woman from the left, which serves as a visual anchor amidst the beautifully rendered swirling golden field reminiscent of Van Gogh.
Born in Karnataka, Kulkarni had a difficult childhood, with his father passing away when he was eleven, forcing him to begin painting signboards. After a diploma in Fine Arts and a post-graduation course from the Sir J. J. School of Art in Mumbai, Kulkarni relocated to Delhi in the late 1940s, where he increasingly took on a role as a teacher and mentor, and was respected as an “Artists’ Artist” by many of his eventually more well-known contemporaries.
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