In an attempt to keep our content accurate and representative of evolving scholarship, we invite you to give feedback on any information in this article.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    Kiran Subbaiah (b. 1971)

    Map Academy

    Articles are written collaboratively by the EIA editors. More information on our team, their individual bios, and our approach to writing can be found on our About pages. We also welcome feedback and all articles include a bibliography (see below).

    An artist working primarily with photography and video, Kiran Subbaiah is known for incorporating humour and irony in his art. His works also explore the relationship between the human figure and forms of doubling in photography and video.

    Subbaiah was born in Siddapura, Coorg, in 1971. He obtained a BFA in sculpture from Kala Bhavana, Shantiniketan, in 1991, an MFA in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda (now Vadodara), in 1994, followed by a second master’s from the Royal College of Arts, London, in 1999. Although he trained as a sculptor, his art incorporates digital and image-making technologies, such as photography and video.

    Through playful and absurd versions of the everyday, Subbaiah places functional objects within a more abstract realm. Works such as Truth Puzzle and Love All consist of seemingly ordinary items that subvert expectations upon closer inspection; for instance, the former comprises a locked box, the key to which is located inside the box. Suicide Note (2006) shows the artist interacting with versions of himself in various settings, accompanied by a voiceover and interspersed with images of famous artworks such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and John Everett Millais’s Ophelia. In his 43-minute long video work Narcissicon (2012), he explored anxieties around identity and the idea of “the copy” through simultaneously interacting with various versions of himself in his studio, arguing over how to spend the day.

    Subbaiah has exhibited at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru (2002); the Serpentine Gallery, London (2008–09); Mumbai Art Room (2012); and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011). He has also participated in the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris (1998); and the KHOJ Workshop, Mumbai (2005). He received the UNESCO Aschberg Bursary in 1995 and the Inlaks scholarship in 1997. He is represented by Chatterjee & Lal.

    At the time of writing, Subbaiah lives and works in Bengaluru.



    Chatterjee & Lal. “Kiran Subbaiah.” Accessed June 1, 2021.

    Geocities. “Kiran Subbaiah.” Accessed June 1, 2021.

    Holmberg, Ryan. “Kiran Subbaiah.” Art in America, April 1, 2013.

    NGV Triennial. “Kiran Subbaiah: Narcissicon.” Accessed June 1, 2021.

    Padhiar, Jigna. “Art for the Fun of It.” Hindustan Times, April 24, 2009.

    Wal, Ardhana. “In Art, it is Conventional to be Anti-Conventional.” Tehelka, March 17, 2012.

    Related Content