Krishna Hebbar was born on 15 June 1912 in Kattigeri, a small beautiful village in Dakshina Kannada. His childhood was spent in the village itself and the beautiful natural scenery, festivals, dances, plays and songs etc. of the village had an impact on Habbar from the very beginning.
He would go to village festivals etc. for painting and receive praise. This environment formed his permanent values. The village-friendly imagination remained in his art till the end.
To get higher education in art, he took admission in Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay. There he worked hard and received a lot of praise. In 1938 he passed the diploma examination from there.
After 1940, Habbar started abandoning styles like Western Impressionism etc. He also wanted to be free from the influence of Mughals, Rajputs and Amrita Shergil, hence he did new experiments. After receiving the diploma from Bombay, he also studied for some time at the Academy Julien in Paris in 1948-50.
After returning to India, he also taught at JJ School of Arts for some time. Thereafter he became a professional painter. The trip to the south made him aware of the importance of rich Indian sculpture. He visited almost all the important centres.
When he met Ruault in Paris, he experienced the depth that religious sentiments can produce in art. He held many exhibitions in the country and abroad and received many awards.
He was honored with the National Award thrice by the Lalit Kala Akademi and Padmashree in 1961. In 1976, he was nominated a Ratna member of the Lalit Kala Akademi. From 1980 to 1984, he was also the President of the Academy.
Habbar’s initial drawings are lyrical and romantic in nature. He has made dynamic drawings of people engaged in various activities of life, which is a combination of tradition and a depiction of progressive India. These works of his have bright colours, warmth and fullness of life.
Initially, he was influenced by Amrita rather than the revivalists and made paintings in the oil medium like Ajanta with lines and bold colors. Hebbar had seen Amrita Sher-Gil’s painting of three young women in the 1935-36 exhibition of the Bombay Art Society and was influenced by it. The painter started seriously studying Gagin’s art.
Between 1939-40, his style started to mature but the sensitivity of line started influencing him more, hence he again started depicting rural subjects, rural scenes, dancers etc. through line. There is harmony of line, color and form in his paintings.
While living in Bombay, he made his subjects the workers living in nearby settlements like house builders, honey sellers, fruit sellers etc.
As a result of studying at the Academy of Paris, his art developed a modern harmony of line and form. This style, developed between 1940-50, is a coordination of Eastern and Western art.
In this the method of shadow and light has been abandoned and the combinations of colors from hard to soft have been used like Matisse and Braque. Along with this, there has also been successful expression of emotions in the pictures.
After 1960, he also incorporated the method of abstraction into his shape-based style. There is a kind of gentleness in his art due to which we easily accept it.
Habbar has also done portraiture, wall painting and creative illustration. He has made mostly cabinet paintings and wall paintings and has done thousands of drawings. Even though his plan is co-ordinative, it is Indian in origin. His lines, despite being classical, are not conventional, despite being figurative, they are not an imitation of anyone; They have the rhythm, richness and flow of Indian sculpture. They are simple and easy.
While painting, Hebbar has taken great care of the composition and has considered the combinations of Indian sculpture as his ideal. Peacock, dancer, Diwali, Holi, drummer, construction and cock fight etc. are some of his main paintings.
After studying visualization and figure painting in the academic method, he turned towards expressionism. Along with this, he was also greatly influenced by Indian classical music and folk music.
To imbibe the feeling of rhythm, he also took dance lessons from the famous teacher of Kathak dance, Pandit Sunderlal. In his adulthood, he turned towards spirituality and tried to explore the medium of art as a way of getting rid of the sorrows of life. Did.
We can see the development of this tendency in his increasingly abstract visuals and dense experiments with colours. Although he was not that strong physically, he still remained continuously engaged in creating art. His 80th birthday was celebrated in 1991. He died on 26 March 1996 in Mumbai.