K. G. Subramanyan's Evocation Of The Festive Season
The picture has an airy quality to it—especially with the absence of the asura and Durga’s cohort—and conveys a rather unconventional interpretation of a popular mythical lore
Many works of the late artist and Padma-Vibhushan awardee, K. G. Subramanyan, juxtapose mythical figures with real-life ones to offer a unique, unconventional interpretation. In a 2014 interview, Subramanyan tells art historian R. Siva Kumar that he saw himself as a fabulist who transformed images, making them “float, fly, perform, tell a visual story”—all by taking inspiration from ordinary landscapes in towns and villages.
His role is well exhibited in this piece, which heralds the festive season as well. It portrays the goddess Durga descending from above, surrounded by a flock of birds, to face the buffalo, which represents a “negative power or inertia”, the artist says. The picture has an airy quality to it—especially with the absence of the asura and Durga’s cohort—imparting the sense of a young woman and the pecking birds ‘taming’ the beast rather than ‘slaying’ it, bringing together a divine notion and a commonplace one.