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J. Swaminathan View Artworks of J. Swaminathan Back to Artist

Jagdish Swaminathan was born at Sanjauli in Simla in 1928. He  studied Painting at the Delhi Polytechnic 1956 and subsequently at Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland. In his early days, he joined the Communist Party of India, where he worked as a journalist and art critic for Left magazine until the mid 1950s. In the late 1950s, Swaminathan decided to become a full-time artist, and alongwith a group of other artists, founded Group 1890. Swaminathan wrote the group’s manifesto, which attacked “vulgar naturalism,” the idealism of the Bengal School, and the “hybrid mannerism” of European Modernism; they preferred and urged other artists to see the wonder in the virginal state.

He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship during 1968-70. He was also the Founder-Director of Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal during the period 1981-90. He has had several shows in Delhi, Mumbai and other places. His works have been represented in many museums and private collections.

The main feature of his paintings was simplicity. The vivid imagery and bright colours were a celebration of the rise of the inner being over the common place. Later on, the well ordered colour geometry and brush painting, gave way to the use of symbols. The latter was a distinct influence of the tribal arts and he began to use his fingers to apply the pigment in order to achieve the desired effect.

J.Swaminathan would always be remembered most for his bird and mountain series. One of the simplest subjects but liked by one and all. His use of bright colours and delightful birds and trees are unmatched till today. Though later he was introduced to abstraction and did a fair bit of good work in this form he would still be most remembered for his landscapes in the Bird and mountain series.

Swaminathan was also a prolific writer and poet. He passed away in 1994.


  1958 Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw


Selected Posthumous Exhibitions  

 2014 'Immutable Gaze Part I: Masterpieces of Modern and Pre-Modern Indian Art', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2012 'Transits of a Wholetimer J. Swaminathan: Years 1950-1969', Gallery Espace, New Delhi

 2012 'Through the Ages: South Asian Sculpture and Painting from Antiquity to Modernism', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2011 'Adbhutam: Rasa in Indian Art', Centre of International Modern Art(CIMA), Kolkata

  2011 'Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore

  2011 ‘Manifestations V', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern & Contemporary Art from India', San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose

  2011 'Masterclass', Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2010 'Figure/Landscape - Part One', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2010 'From Miniature to Modern: Traditions in Transition', Rob Dean Art, London in association with Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Modern Folk: The Folk Art Roots of the Modernist Avant-Garde', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2010 'Manifestations IV', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2009 'Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 2009 'In Search of the Vernacular', Aicon Gallery, New York

  2008-09 'Paz Mandala', Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2008 'Moderns', Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan organized by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in collaboration with Embassy of India, Amman, Jordan

  2008 '3 Masters Briefly', AkarPrakar, Kolkata

  2005 Ashta Nayak: Eight Pioneers of Indian Art', Aicon Gallery, New York


Selected Solo Exhibitions  

  1996 'House/Boat', Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

  1995-96 Budapest, Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre, New Delhi and Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

  1994-95 'Riverscape', Birla Academy of Art and Culture and Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  1994 'House/Boat', Oboro, Montreal

  1994 'Works with Paper', Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad

  1994 'Map, Monument, Fallen Mortal', South London Gallery, London

  1993 'Memorial', All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi

  1993 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1992 'Collaboration/Combines', Shridharni Gallery, New Delhi, Jehangir Art Gallery, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

  1990 Shridhrani, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

  1988 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1982 Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad

  1982 Sculpture in Fiberglass, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1981 Sculpture in Fiberglass, Art Heritage, New Delhi

  1971 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

  1965 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

Selected Group Exhibitions  

  1988 ‘Seventeen Indian Painters’, on occasion of 25 years of Gallery Chemould, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1963 Inaugural Exhibition, Group 1980, New Delhi


  1988 Festival of India, Takaoka Municipal Museum of Art and Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo

  1987 Festival of India, Moscow

  1986,88 1st and 2nd National Biennale, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

  1968 1st International Triennale, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  1965 International Exhibition of Indian Graphics, organized by UNESCO, Poland

  1965 Tokyo Biennale, Japan


Honours and Awards

  1981-90 Founder Director, Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

  1968-70 Awarded Jawaharlal Nehru Scholarship

  1963 Founded Member, Group 1890, a Group of 12 Artists, Bhavnagar, Gujarat

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