Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar was born in 1911 at Kattingeri in the Udupi district of Karnataka. His father used to make clay idols of Lord Ganesha during festivals and this background in folk art helped Hebbar decipher his passion for art and take it forward.
K.K. Hebbar received his earlier training in art in Mysore and later at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai. He started his artistic career as a teacher at the Sir J.J. School and taught there between 1940 and 1945. Although Hebbar was trained the western techniques of art but his approach and his distinct style remained rooted in the ethos of Indian folk art. K.K. Hebbar further travelled to Europe to study art at the Academy Julian in Paris.
Hebbar’s idiom is a unique combination of impressionistic and expressionistic techniques. A strong social concern made him focus on subjects like poverty, hunger and the destruction wrought by nuclear weapons. At the other end of the spectrum lie his drawings and paintings that capture the grace of dance performances, influence by his study of the classical Indian dace form, Kathak. Throughout his career, Hebbar never ceased to experiment, and enriched his artistic vocabulary through several trips around the country, including those to important historical sites like the ancient caves at Karla, in Maharashtra. One of the sketches that resulted from this particular trip won him a gold medal from the Bombay Art Society.
Hebbar always held that an artist's role was to tell the truth about his feelings without any dilution. Due to his opposition to the politicization of art, he was not a part of any of the many artist groups that thrived in India during the 1940s and 50s; and yet he played an important part in the organization of artists in Bombay, and was closely associated with the Jehangir and Chemould Art Galleries in the city. K.K. Hebbar has exhibited widely across India and abroad. He was honoured with a number of awards through his career, including the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 1989, and the Maharashtra Shasan ‘Gourav Puraskar’ in 1990.
The artist passed away in 1996.
1949-50 Academy Julian (Painting) and Ecole Estinne (Graphics), Paris
1934-38 Diploma in Painting, Sir J, J. School of Art, Mumbai
Selected Post humous Exhibitions
2013 'The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2011-12 'An Artist's Quest: K.K Hebbar- A Retrospective', at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Bangalore; New Delhi and Mumbai
2011-12 'The Body Unbound', Rubin Museum of Art, New York
2011 ‘Manifestations VI', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2011 ‘Manifestations V', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 ‘Manifestations IV', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2009 'Indian Art After Independence: Selected Works from the Collections of Virginia & Ravi Akhoury and Shelley & Donald Rubin', Emile Lowe Gallery, Hempstead
2009 'Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
2009 'Long Gone & Living Now', Gallerie Mirchandani + Steinreucke, Mumbai
2008 'Moderns', Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan organized by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in collaboration with Embassy of India, Amman, Jordan
2004 ‘Manifestations II : Indian Art in the 20th Century’, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
1999 ‘K. K. Hebbar – In Remembrance’, Fine Art Company, Mumbai
1997 ‘K. K. Hebbar – Paintings, Drawings, Publications’, organized by K. K. Hebbar Art Foundation, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
Selected Solo Exhibitions
1993 ‘K. K. Hebbar – Exhibition of Paintings’, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.
1987 ‘Indian Drawing Today’, Jehangir Art Gallery,, Mumbai
1980 ‘K. K. Hebbar – Retrospective’, Jehangir Art Gallery,, Mumbai
1978 ‘Hebbar – Drawings and Paintings’, Jehangir Art Gallery,, Mumbai
1973 ‘Drawings and Paintings’, All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), New Delhi
1971 ‘Retrospective’, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1969 Bonythan Art Gallery, Australia
1964 New York. USA
1953 All India Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures, traveling to USSR, Poland and West Germany
1951 Salon de Mai, Paris
1941 Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata
1959 Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil.
1958 National Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
1957 National Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
1956 National Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
1955 Venice Biennale, Italy.
1947 Annual Exhibition, Bombay Art Society, Mumbai
Honours and Awards
1990 Maharashtra Shasan ‘Gourav Puraskar’
1989 ‘Padma Bhushan’, by the President of India
1988 Maharashtra State’s Gaurav Puraskar.
1986 Karnataka State Rayotsava Award.
1985 Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademy Award for Distinguished Artists.
1980-84 The President of India nominated him the Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
1983 Soviet Land Nehru Award.
1976 Honorary D. Litt. from Mysore University
1976 Fellowship, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1961 Padmasri, by the President of India.
1958 National Academy of Art Award for his work ‘Mahim Darga’, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1957 National Academy of Art Award for his work ‘ Song of the Field’, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1956 National Academy of Art Award for his work ‘Rhythm’, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1956 First Bombay State Art Award, Mumbai.
1954 Nominated as Eminent artist by the Lalit Kala Akademi in its first General Council meet.
1947 Gold Medal of the Bombay Art Society, Mumbai
1941 Gold Medal of the Academy of Fine Arts, KolkataBack to Artists View Artworks of K.K. Hebbar