Born in July 1929, in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, the self-taught artist Badri Narayan has been painting for over 45 years. During this time, he has worked as an art teacher and an artist, but has always remained a deeply introspective individual. This self-reflection and autobiographical perspective is the most constant theme in Narayan’s work.
The artist’s paintings are narrative, and titles like ‘Queen Khemsa’s Dream of Hamsa’ and ‘Meeting at Midstream’, are the starting points from where one must unravel the complexities presented by the paintings, in order to interpret and understand them. Symbolism is a recurring feature of his works, though sometimes, he also uses popular icons of Indian culture like Ganesha. He explains, “I have picked up the imagery that surrounds me, the one I am born into, and it comes naturally.” Narayan draws heavily from Indian mythology and metaphors and acknowledges the influence of the Indian miniature tradition in his works. The artist believes in the two-dimensionality of painting, and prefers to work in a smaller format; one that he finds practical and well suited for the watercolours that have been his preferred medium for several years. Narayan has also worked with etchings, woodcuts and ceramics and illustrated some children’s books.
Narayan’s first solo exhibition of paintings was held at the Hyderabad Art Society in 1954. Since then, he has held well over fifty solo shows including several exhibitions at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai. He has also exhibited his work at Mon Art Gallerie, Kolkata; Sakshi Art Gallery, Bangalore; and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.
Badri Narayan’s work has also been featured in several group shows, the most recent ones being ‘The Root of Everything’ at Gallery Mementos, Bangalore, in 2009; ‘Different Strokes’ presented by Tulika Arts at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 2007-08; ‘Journey 2’ at Gallery Art and Soul, Mumbai, in 2007; and ‘Spectra’ at Gallerie Zen, Bangalore, in 2007. He has also participated in the Bharat Bhavan Biennale, Bhopal, in 1992; the 7th Indian Triennale, New Delhi, in 1991’ the 1st and 2nd International Triennales, New Delhi, in 1968 and 1971 respectively; the 5th International Biennale of Prints, Tokyo, in 1966-67; and the 2nd International Biennale, Paris, in 1961.
Badri Narayan passed away on 23rd September, 2013.