Challenging Preconceived Forms: AP Santhanaraj’s Art

There is something singularly fascinating about the intersection of lines and colours in AP Santhanaraj’s paintings. It is apparent that he is an artist who defies convention and establishment even while drawing inspiration from familiar surroundings.

Born in 1932 at Tiruvannamalai , Andrew Peter Santhanaraj showed a fixation for drawing from a young age. His obsession grew to such a degree that he declared his school teaching to be “artificial” and distracting. It is believed that he even tried to gain admission to the prestigious Madras School of Arts and Crafts at the mere age of 10. He was eventually granted admission when he turned 16.

Girl with her pet, 2006


As is evident from his creations, Santhanaraj flirts delicately with the most fundamental element of art: the humble line. He explores it through different subjects and themes. He once declared, “I am hungry about painting. What comes out of it, I don’t know. All my intentions are not to accept a preconceived form.”


Untitled, Saatchi World


Santhanaraj  also challenged the conventional posture of artists by placing his canvases flat on the ground and working on it from all directions. No wonder his paintings radiate colour, form and texture from every point on the canvas.


Untitled, StoryLTD


Santhanaraj taught at his alma mater, finally retiring in 1990 as the principal of the same college. He received many honours including the National Award, the Kala Ratna, and the Kalimamani Shiromani award.

Images from Noble Sage, Artworld & Saatchi Art




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *