An Artist's Quest
by K. K. Hebbar
HEBBAR'S "An Artist's Quest" is unique in more than one way. Firstly though biographical it is not a biography, though critical it does not boast of esoteric personal credo and above all it is a simple account of an art pilgrim's progress from a modest start to a self fulfilment.
Hebbar, as one of the senior artists, is quite well-known and well assessed in print and collections here and abroad. However, in this volume his total performance is unfolded in a chronological order along with his vivifying comments. These comments are expressively analogous to his paintings. There is no attempt at stylised writing. Like the "Ancient Mariner" of Coleridge he stops you on your way and buttonholing you with glittering eyes unfolds the simple story of a simple child. As the story progresses one hears deeper echoes of graver truths in the simple narration. There is the self-same expression in his paintings—a sort of animism in his outlook. He personifies everyday events and visual sights and endows them with symbolic personality. His symbols are not codified nor stereotyped with narrow traditional meaning. They are alive because they are born out of formal situation and a formal logic of a particular painting.
Fifteen years ago in a monograph in the "Contemporary Series of Indian Art", published by the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, I had said : "Neither Hebbar nor his paintings are extremist. They appeal to you with a persuasive undertone somewhat shy yet convincing. They pronounce their nationality yet do not brag. Like Hebbar himself they are always natural. Striking a pose is alien both to Hebbar and his paintings"—it still holds good for Hebbar, the artist and the man.
Hebbar had set himself years ago on the road leading to the present position wherein lies his search for the new awareness of contemporary situation. Technically his advance has been completely integrated. In the quest he has discovered step by step new awakenings from the representational to the non-objective presentation of reality. During all his search the essential modalities of Indian classical as well as folk art have been transformed into a contemporary vision. One can safely say that, in the present situation, if any national trait is to be nurtured Hebbar's way seems to be a rational and aesthetically a cogent one.
About The Author
This is perhaps for the first time a contemporary Indian artist explains in his own words his evolution from the imitative beginning to his present expressive and symbolic creative period. Hebbar is an internationally known artist.
Born in 1912 in South Kanara, India, Hebbar has studied art both at home and abroad. His contribution to contemporary Indian art. especially in the post independence era, is very rich and varied. He has won many important awards at art exbibitions including the National Academy Awards for three successive years 1956, '57 '58. In 1961 he received national recognition by being warded 'Padma Shri' from the President of India. His works have been published under three different titles at different times and now they are out of print. The present one is a comprehensive volume showing the full range of Hebbar's creative talent up-to-date.
Prof. V. R. Amberkar. a noted art educationist has been following Hebbar's progress over the past three decades. He bas observed in his short introduction that "Hebbar personifies everyday events and visual sights and endows them with symbolic personality. His symbols are not codified nor steretyped with narrow traditional meaning. They are alive because they are born out of a formal situation and a formal logic of a particular painting."
And his quest continue...