Coming of age during Indira Gandhi’s National Emergency, Surendran Nair was very much engaged with political resistance during his student years, joining hunger strikes and designing pamphlets and posters for his friends and political groups with whom he sympathised. It was this period that nurtured his political sensibility and awakened him to the potential of popular forms such as posters and political graffiti.
Despite this background, Nair has avoided making overt political statements in his art, preferring to use subtle references from literature, myth and elsewhere to raise concerns about social and political issues. His iconography is derived from both classic and contemporary realms and his works tend to merge notions of reality with the surreal, imbuing them with a poetic, mysterious nature. He also employs heavy symbolism and intense character portraits at times, to investigate the realms of myths in a modern day context. In his works, Nair is concerned with emphasizing vital issues that concern contemporary Indian society and the individual at large. He often infuses elements of Indian and Western art history and mythology to invent wholly new images that are subject to interpretation of the viewer.
Born in 1956 in Onakkoor, Kerala, Surendran Nair completed his B.F.A. in painting from College of Fine Arts, Kerala in 1982 and Post Diploma in printmaking from M.S. University, Baroda four years later. His works are part of important private collections the world over, and are also held in numerous public collections including the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; Queensland Art Gallery, Australia; National Gallery of Australia, Australia; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi and National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
Nair lives and works in Baroda, India.