The Hyderabad art fraternity mourns the demise of Surya Prakash, one of the city’s most iconic artists
On Wednesday morning, the Hyderabad art community fought back tears on learning the news of artist Surya Prakash’s demise. The 79-year-old succumbed to a cardiac arrest in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Born in 1940 in Madhira, Khammam district, Surya Prakash moved to Hyderabad to study art at the Government College of Fine Arts & Architecture. He then won a scholarship from the AP Lalit Kala Academy and worked under renowned artist Ram Kumar in New Delhi for a few months.
In his early years, Surya Prakash worked as a freelance artist, along with Laxma Goud and Dakoji Devraj in Hyderabad. Surya Prakash was drawn to themes inspired by Nature, particularly tall trees and foliage. He refrained from portraiture and animal figures.
K Laxma Goud
Our State has lost one of its very best artists and I have lost a very dear friend. During our initial days, we led a humble life and lived in a car garage for 15 years. We didn’t even have a proper meal to eat and worked and struggled to come up in our own individual way. While studying art in the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, we were hostel mates too. As an artist, whatever he did was inspiring. Everything that he created was born out of his own emotions and experiences. The skills that he had is very hard to find now. It is tough to find someone who paints so genuinely and sincerely. He has made a place for himself not only nationally but even at the international level. His works are part of many private collections. He was commissioned on many occasions by important institutions in our country. His contribution to create an environment of art at CCMB during its director P Bhargava’s time is one of the most exemplary feats in the art world.
I am very proud of his contribution, which created possibilities for others to understand the role that art can play in the social life.
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K. Ramesh Babu
It is a very sad day for me. I have known him for 40 years. When I joined the College of Arts and Architecture, he was my senior studying advanced diploma. As a senior, he was very helpful. Later, he took part in camps and group exhibitions and was close to the artist community. Surya Prakash was a thorough gentleman, even if he was angry he was never harsh. One thing that we had in common was that we never went to see any movies as students. He would take me everywhere, even to have tea from a bandi, he would call me. I will never forget that.
Founder, India Fine Art
I have lost a dear friend and a guide. I first met Surya Prakash in 2001 at Surya Art Gallery in Punjagutta. He didn’t have an air of superiority despite being an acclaimed artist. Through him, I met several other artists in Hyderabad. I hosted my first ever art show ‘Hyderabad With Love’, with his encouragement. We exhibited his works, along with that of Thota Vaikuntam, Laxma Goud, Laxman Aelay and Nandini Goud.
Over the years, we’ve met several times in Mumbai and Hyderabad. In 2006, Surya Prakash talked about an art camp at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad to bring together both established and emerging artists. When I asked him who was organising it, he encouraged me to do it.
In December 2018, when we organised the Surya Prakash retrospective at State Gallery of Art, Hyderabad, it was again a platform to reconnect with several artists. I have booked Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery for December 9 and 10, 2019, for the same retrospective exhibition. I am not sure how it will turn out without his presence.
Curator and co-owner, Daira Centre for Arts and Culture
I have known Surya Prakash since I began writing on art in 1993. In the early 90s, Hyderabad did not have many galleries. Surya Art Gallery, at his home on Srinagar Colony Road, was a meeting place for anyone interested in art. That’s where I met several artists.
Over the years he was extremely supportive. In January 2019, when we conducted an art education camp for children, he visited us. Not many artists show interest in camps for children. But he and Thota Vaikuntam are different. Vaikuntam was the mentor for the children and we had intended to conduct the next camp with the support of Surya Prakash.
Art patron and owner, Kalakriti Art Gallery
It’s tough to think that Surya Prakash is no more. He had visited my wife Rekha and me last week and discussed several ideas. We had known him for several years. He was always easy to approach, down to earth and brimming with ideas. He did what he loved till his last days — devote himself to art.
On Tuesday evening Surya Prakash called me to talk about a show he planned to conduct at CCMB; he asked me to prepare a list of artists. I first met him when I was a student and frequented Surya Art Gallery for small assignments. I would observe him and he would explain things to me. He was a legendary artist. I learnt a great deal about art from him. I always looked up to him for inspiration and advice. Surya Prakash was a trendsetter; he was one of the first from the city to plan a national-level art camp as a resident artist of CCMB. The result was a huge mural to pay tribute to late MF Husain. Interestingly, he also designed most of the official rooms at CCMB except the labs. LV Prasad Eye Hospital too followed suit and its walls are adorned with his art.
My last interaction with him was a few months ago during his retrospective show at State Art Gallery. It was always a pleasure to meet him. I was in awe of his simplicity, he was kind and polite to everyone. For me he will remain one of the best artists and human beings I have met in Hyderabad.
I had a decade-long association with the legendary artist. His demise is an immense loss for the art fraternity. His art will remain as a testament of his magnificent vision. He will be remembered for his large works of Nature and trees; he lived a complete artist’s life. I have great memories of interacting with him and displaying his paintings at Muse gallery.
Surya Prakash was a kind and gentle person. In 2003 when I moved to Hyderabad from Kolkata, he helped me with a map of the city, pointing out where the different art galleries were. We have had a fantastic exchange of ideas as artists and he expressed keen interest in my writing as well. He always turned up for exhibitions when I invited him and was forthcoming with suggestions on how art can reach more people.
(Inputs from Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, Prabalika M Borah and Neeraja Murthy)
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