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The Sensual Artworld of Laxma Goud

Born on 21st August 1940 in Nizampur, Andhra Pradesh, Laxma Goud is a renowned Indian painter, printmaker, and draughtsman. Goud’s entry into the discipline of art might be considered an accident. As a child who was not good with studies and grades, the doors of streams like science and humanities were already closed for him. This prompted his father to enrol him in an art school in Hyderabad after which there was no looking back for Goud. He completed his diploma in Drawing and Painting from the Government School of Art and Architecture, Hyderabad, in 1963; he then went on to study Mural Painting and Printmaking at the Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University, Baroda, from 1963 to 1965.

Throughout his career, Goud has exhibited at several prestigious institutions both within and outside India. For instance, his works have been part of group exhibitions held in Mumbai in 2012; New York in 2011-12; Art Musings at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 2008; ‘Festival of India’, Geneva, 1987; and Worcester Art Museum, 1986, etc. Goud received the Andhra Pradesh State Lalit Kala Academi awards in 1962, 1966 and 1971. He was honoured by the Government of India with the prestigious Padma Shri in 2016.

Untitled. Mixed Media on canvas. Courtesy of thecurators. 

Goud displays a mastery over a range of mediums from printmaking, drawing, watercolour, gouache, and pastels to glass painting and sculpture in bronze and terracotta. Contrasting this versatility in mediums in his oeuvre has been his constant preoccupation with the subject of the erotic. His obsession with the erotic can be traced back to his life in the village where he found an absence of taboos and inhibitions about sex, which were so predominant in the urban society where he pursued his education. In his village, he observed people living close together with animals, women abusing each other with plain sexual gestures and words during petty fights, and a lone villager describing his amorous exploits in a song. 

Untitled (orgy).1991. Pencil and gouache on paper. Courtesy of Artsy.

This unriddled sex life in the village finds expression in his diverse array of works that display explicit portrayal of sexual play without any symbolic undertones; entwined human, animal and nature forms in figuratively cohabiting postures; the invocation of the animus in nocturnal lights; and a subtle, psychological exploration of the male-female relationship tinged with gentle pathos. Influential figures like the collector Jagdish Mittal and the theatre director Ebrahim Alkazi were quick to spot Goud’s unique style and talent in his early years. 

Untitled. Pencil on Handmade Paper. Courtesy of Sotheby. 

When one encounters Goud’s work, rustic, raw, and potent might be the first words that come to mind. His experimentations with depicting the human figure, especially the body of the woman have resulted in captivating works of art. Talking about the centrality of the figure of the woman in his work, he says, “A woman is like the earth, the earth is the personification of the female and no male image is complete without the female. That idea has opened a whole new world before me. If I have to express my view about life, a man, woman and the environment are very important. Myriad moods are conveyed through the imagery of explicitly aroused human beasts, birds, and phallic and vaginal trees rooted amidst intricately stirred foliage.” 

Untitled. 1994. Hinged Plywood. Courtesy of Saffronart. 

The figure of the goat – a traditional symbol of sexuality across cultures – both full-uddered and with erect penises is a signature motif in his oeuvre. In the work above, the animal with an erect penis and salacious grin appears alongside the reclining nude woman painted in blocks of different colours. In another work, the woman, being caressed by a man, is transformed into a faun-like creature. Goud’s depictions of bestiality are difficult to discern but their immediate impact on the viewer is enchanting. 

Untitled. Zinc etching plate. Courtesy of Invaluable.

However, Laxma Goud’s oeuvre is not absolutely limited to the expression of the erotic. Some of his most valuable works also include his depictions of mythological figures, for instance, his painting Untitled (Shiv Parivar) portrays the family of the Hindu god Shiva in vivid colours. Similarly, his paintings of figures like Ganesha and Krishna have fetched record prices at auctions. In addition to this, an investment in the rural landscape and its cultural fabric also motivates many of his works. Goud thanks his mentor, the late K. G. Subramanyam of the Baroda School, for instilling in him a sense of attachment with the indigenous. 

Untitled (Shiv Parivar). 2016. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Invaluable.

For Goud, there is no distinction between life and art. He asserts that to think of his life without art is impossible. On his birthday today, let us revisit his artworld and rethink the altered position of the discourse of the erotic in contemporary times.


  1. laxmagoud.com
  2. Deccan Chronicle- Laxma In Retrospect Artist Talks About His Art Depiction of Eroticism.
  3. Asian Age-Self Discovery Through Art.
  4.  Laasyaart- Contemporary Indian Artist Laxma Goud
  5. The Hindu- Laxma Goud on Padma Shri and Much More.

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