11 June 2009

Remembering A.P. Santhanaraj

In Chennai on May 25, 2009 the eminent artist A.P. Santhanaraj passed away at his home near Tambaram after suffering from health problems for some time. Although suffering from consistent ill health in the last years, he continued to paint until his death. He was 77 years old and is survived by four sons.

Santhanaraj was born on March 13, 1932, at Tiruvannamalai and exhibited a fascination for drawing at the early age of 4 years old. His distraction with pictures absorbed him so completely that he considered going to the Tiruvannamalai Danish Mission School a major hindrance and considered school teaching and learning “artificial”.

Having heard of the Madras School of Arts and Crafts, Santhanaraj wanted to begin his artistic journey from that institution and attempted to gain admittance to the school at the age of 10. He was refused entry because of his young age, but eventually joined in 1948 at the age of 16.

He later became a teacher at the Institute and then Principal and also exhibited his work both in India and the U.K. However, Santhanaraj never liked to exhibit his works for the simple reason that he was never satisfied with them despite the admiration and awards that they won.

He is believed to be one of the pioneers and forerunners of the modern art movement in the country and favourite artist to many of his peers including M.F. Hussain. Santhanaraj has said of his work:

“My art is abstract, very abstract. Abstraction according to me is giving importance to the most important aspect of the object and eliminating the unimportant though it might exist.”


prakasam kannan said...

i have heard from my grandpa (kanchipuram silk sarees manufacturer)a creative person will never satisfy about his creations till his end.how true.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Yes, what your grandpa says does seem to be truth. Another striking thing about A.P. Santhanaraj was his eagerness to impart his knowledge to those many students and apprentices that he was connected with until his death.

HC said...

A brilliant draftsman and painter. At some point the art world will wake up and recognise his true genius and confer upon his work its proper due - which unfortunately eluded him during his lifetime (for a variety of reasons).