Born in Kerala in 1940 and trained at the College of Arts and Crafts in Madras, Viswanadhan Velu was one of the founder members of the Cholamandal Artists' Village there. Viswanadhan looks at his work as an individual journey and an exploration. Though his early work is figurative, the artist evolved his vocabulary over time through experiments with abstract and geometric forms. In the late 1960s, Viswanadhan, inspired by the geometrical ritualistic-magical diagrams of his native Kerala, began to explore the visual language inherent in them. This theme returns in his work time and again, with gradual evolution of form and colour.
He works mostly on paper and linen. Viswanadhan draws with a particularly arresting technique. The outline is drawn with thick stamping ink, and then oil paint is applied with a brush and the work washed with essence of turpentine. The transparent and thin paint reveals the geometric forms. His later works, using strong hand made paper, combine a technique generally utilized in the making of handicrafts with a sophisticated sense of organization. He has also used Indian ink to create large, horizontal pieces and smaller square drawings. In addition to his art, Viswanadhan has made a series of films based on the primary elements of Nature: Sand, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
An artist of international acclaim, Viswanadhan’s latest solo show was at Galerie Pascaline Mulliez, Paris. He also had a solo show in New York at the Marlborough Gallery in 2008. He has exhibited solo several times at Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, since his first solo show at the gallery in 1982. In 1985, his ‘Sand / Water’ exhibition was held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Within India, Viswanadhan has had solo shows at Jehangir Art Gallery, Tao Art Gallery, and Gallery Chemould in Mumbai, as well as the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi, among others.
Viswanadhan has participated in the Asian Art Fair, New York, in 2007; the 15th International Art Exhibition, Tokyo, in 1984; and the Festival International de Peinture, Cagnes-sur-mer, France, in 1971. Among the many awards to his credit, in 2005, he was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et Letters by the Government of France. The artist lives and works in Paris. His works are in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern (Germany), the National Fund of Contemporary Art (Paris) the Castle Museum of Cagnes-sur-Mer and the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris.