K K Hebbar | K K Hebbar Gallery and Art Centre (HGAC)
K K Hebbar with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at the unveiling of Moulana aAzad’s portrait at Azad Bhavan, 1959
K K Hebbar

Biography | Awards and Distinctions | View the collection | Publications | Public Service | Critical Perspectives

Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar, one of the most prominent modernist artists in India, hailed from Kattingeri, a village in South Canara in Karnataka. Known best for his work not only as an artist but also as an art educationist and institution-maker, Hebbar made Bombay his home for the most part of his life.. He completed his Diploma from the J.J.School of Art in 1938 and went on to teach in the school from 1940 to 1945. His exposure to art during his visit to Europe in 1949 led him to further continue his art study at the Academy Julian in Paris.

Though trained in the academic style of art, Hebbar’s style emerged with rich infusions and learning from his childhood upbringing around music, dance and folk art, expecially forms such as the Yakshagana and Kathak. He was part of an intellectually vibrant environment of poets, authors, writers and politicians who directly or indirectly influenced his work as an artist. These include the likes of Bombay Progressive Artists, polyglot Shivarama Karanth, statesman H Y Sharada Prasad among others. Apart from his abstract and figurative works, he was also commissioned to do several political portraits , especially during the Nehruvian era. Motifs from traditional Indian art, various international travels, reflections on socio-political conditions, literary classics such as the Silapadikaram and themes from Yakshagana abound in his expressions which range from oil canvases to line drawings. Mulk Raj Anand, enamored by the rhythm and energy of his line drawings, called them the ‘Singing Lines’ which, till date, continue to be identified as his most iconic signature style.

Awards and Distinctions
1941 – Gold Medal of the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta
1947 – Gold Medal of the Bombay Art Society
1956 – First Bombay State Art Exhibition and AWARD
1956,57,58 – Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi AWARD
1961 – President’s ‘Republic Day’ Padmashri Honor
1976 – Elected Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1976 – Hon. Dr. of Literature Mysore University
1983 – Soviet Land Nehru Award
1985 – Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademi Award for Distinguished artists
1988 – Maharashtra State Gaurav Puraskar
1989 – President’s ‘ Republic Day’ Padmabhushan Honor
1990 – Maharashtra Shasan ‘ Gaurav Puraskar’
1994 – Varnashilpi Venkatappa Award, Government of Karnataka

New Delhi – National Gallery of Modern Art

New Delhi – Lalit Kala Akademi

Punjab – Government Museum of Chandigarh

Karnataka – Government Museum

Baroda – Government Museum

Calcutta – Academy of Fine Arts

Calcutta – Birla Academy of Fine Arts

Mumbai – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Goa – Kala Academy

Government Museum Collection
Poland, Czechoslovakia, USSR, Dresden Museum,
Commonwealth Collection Australia
The Staten Island Institute of Arts and Science USA
and in private collections

1948 – Hebbar A Deluxe Edition, Nalanda Publication, Mumbai
1960, 82 (revised) – Hebbar A Monograph In Contemporary Artists Series by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1964 – The Singing Line, Peacock Publication, Mumbai
1974 – An Artist ’ Quest, Abhinav Publication, New Delhi
1982 – Singing Line, Revised Edition, Abhinav Publication, Mumbai
1991 – Voyage in Images, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
1988 – Kaṭṭiṅgēri Kr̥ṣṇa Hebbāra: kale mattu baduku, Uḍupi: Prādēśika Jānapada Raṅgakalegaḷa Adhyayana Kēndra
1999 – Kalavida Hebbarara Rekhalavanya, Navakarnataka publication
1983 – Hebbar, C. M. N. Prakashana

Public Service
1953 – 1973     Chairman, Artists’ Centre, Mumbai
1954 – 1957     President, Art Society of India, Mumbai
1978 – 1980     President, Lalit Kala Akademi, Karnataka
1980 – 1984     Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1987 – 1990     President, Bombay Art Society

Critical Perspectives
A Humanist Vision – Suresh Jayaram, Art Historian

Art as essential – Dr Nikhil Govind, Head, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities & Co-ordinator, HGAC

Time, capture and portraits – Dr. Meera Baindur, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities

K K Hebbar sketching in monterey
K K Hebbar in his studio