Balan Nambiar, born in 1937 in Kannapuram in Kerala, took a Diploma in Fine Arts (Sculpture-First class) from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Madras, in 1971. He is a painter, sculptor, photographer, enamellist and researcher on the ritual arts of the west coast of south India.

He worked with clay, wood, bronze, mild steel, glass fibre reinforced concrete and stainless steel. Many of his works are monumental, involving computer-generated designs and laser cutting technology. Since 1987 he has been doing enamel paintings on silver and copper. His creative works are greatly influenced by childhood memories and symbols associated with the ritual arts.

He has executed six outdoor sculptures in glassfibre reinforced cement at the R&D Centre of Portland Cement Factory, Heidelberg (1978), a granite sculptural composition for Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru (1995); a series of large stainless steel sculptures: "Valampiri Shankha" for Texas Instruments, now at IISc, Bengaluru (2000); "Sculpture for Timken" at the electronic city, Bengaluru (2004); "The Sky is the Limit" for the Indian Oil Corporation, Delhi (2010); a hanging sculpture "Nest" for Ganjam Jewellers, Bengaluru (2015); "Reach for the Sky", a 7 meters high sculpture for the Bank Note Paper Mill, Mysuru etc.

He represented India at Venice Biennale (1982). He participated in Indian Triennale, Delhi, "Constructa-78" Hanover Industrial Fair, Germany(1978), Bronzetto di Padova, Italy (1981), Neo-Tantra Art by 16 Indian artists, Stuttgart and four other cities in Germany (1983); East-West encounter, Visual Arts, sponsored by Max Mueller Bhavan & NCPA, Bombay (1985).

He has held 35 solo exhibitions. The first was an exhibition of paintings in Thiruvanandapuram in 1966. In 1975 he held a solo exhibition of 24 garden sculptures in steel between 2 and 6 metres high in Bengaluru.

Several of his creative works are in the collection of NGMA of Delhi and Bengaluru; Govt. Museums in Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai; NCPA, Mumbai; Nehru planetarium Jawarlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Schientific Reaserch, Bengaluru; Ministry of Defence, Delhi, Salam Stainless Steel Factory, etc.

He conducted research on 27 different ritual arts of Kerala and Tulunadu and recorded over 10,000 photographs and about 150 hours of music. Around 1600 of his photographs have been acquired by the IGNCA, New Delhi.

Research papers by him were presented, since 1976, in seminars and conferences at four universities in Germany (Tubingen, Wurzburg, Heidelberg, Free University of Berlin); House of World Culture, Berlin, Rietberg Museum, Zurich and Venice University, Italy; IGNCA, India International Centre (four times), Indian Council for Philosophical Research, Delhi; National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai; MaxMueller Bhavan, (Madras, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad), National Institute of Advanced Studies and Mythic Society, Bengaluru, etc.

He received the Karnataka State LKA Award in 1980 and National Award of Lalit Kala Akademi in 1981 for his sculptures; Senior Fellowship of the Ministry of Culture in 1982-83 and Nehru Fellowship of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in 1983-85 for his academic research; Academy Fellowship of the Kerala LKA in 2005 for creative works and Kalaratna Fellowship of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in 2013 for painting and Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram, the highest state award in the art category from the Government of Kerala in 2015.

He has been a member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture of the Ministry of Culture during 2008-2011, Executive Board of LKA, Apex Committee of the National Gallery of Modern Art and Central for Cultural Resources and Training of the MoC Delhi. He was the Acting Chairman of the LKA, Delhi, during 2012.

He has been conducting free art classes for children between the age of 6 and 12, once a week since 1971. Over 2500 children might have attended his art classes and over forty of them have taken to Fine Arts, Design or Architecture as their career.

  • 2018 Retrospective Exhibition at NGMA Bangalore of works done since 1957, curated by Sadanand Menon.
  • 2016 35th solo exhibition of 29 enamel paintings and 22 stainless steel sculptures, drawings and photographs at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 2012 solo exhibition of stainless steel sculptures and photographs on "The Mirror Idol" at the ART HERITAGE, New Delhi
  • 2006 solo exhibition of 13 stainless steel sculptures and 12 enamel paintings at Shrishti Gallery, Hyderabad, India
  • 2005 solo exhibition of stainless steel sculptures at ART HERITAGE, New Delhi
  • 2004 Indian Artists for France, organised by French Embassy & Alliance Francaise, New Delhi, India
  • 1996 solo exhibition of Jewellery enamel painting on copper and silver at the British Council, Madras/Chennai
  • 1993 solo exhibition of bronze sculptures and enamel paintings, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 1990 solo exhibition of enamel paintings, Caffe' Florian, Venice, Italy
  • 1985 East-West encounter, Visual Arts, jointly sponsored by Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB) & National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Bombay/Mumbai, India
  • 1983-84 Neo-Tantra Art by 16 Indian artists, Stuttgart, Oberhausen, Dusseldorf, Hannover and Bayreuth, Germany
  • 1982 Venice Biennale, Italy
  • 1981 Indian Triennale, New Delhi
  • 1981 Bronzetto di Padova, Italy
  • 1977-78 Three solo exhibitions in Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Hannover, Germany
  • 1978 "Constructa-78", Hanover Industrial Fair, Germany
  • 1975 Solo exhibition of Garden Sculptures - 24 sculptures made of steel (between and 6 m high), Bangalore, India
  • 1967 First solo exhibition of paintings at American Centre, Trivandrum, India
  • National Gallery of Modern Arts, New Delhi (five outdoor sculptures and an enamel painting.)
  • Government. Museum, Madras
  • Government. Museum, Bengaluru
  • Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur
  • Bank Note Paper Mill, Mysuru
  • Indian Oil Corporation, New Delhi
  • National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai
  • Museum of Sacred Art, Durbuy, Belgium
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Air India, Mumbai
  • Times of India, Mumbai
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
  • Nehru Planetarium (BMNP), Bengaluru
  • Ecumenical Christian Centre, Whitefield, Bengaluru
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru.
  • General Electric, Whitefield, Bengaluru
  • Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India
  • Salem Stainless Steel factory (SAIL)
  • (There are over thirty outdoor sculptures in and around Bengaluru)
  • 2015 Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram from the Government of Kerala
  • 2007 Academy fellowship from Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy, Thrissur, Kerala
  • 2005 Karnataka-Malayali Pratibha Puraskaram by Mathrubhumi newspaper based on a readers survey
  • 1983-85 Nehru Fellowship, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi
  • 1982-83 Senior Fellowship, Ministry of Human Resources, Education and Culture, Govt. of India. New Delhi
  • 1981 National Award for sculpture, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
  • 1980 State Award for sculpture, Karnataka Lalitha Kala Academy, Bangalore
  • Member of the Board of Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, New Delhi, since 2013
  • Acting Chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2012
  • Member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture (CABC), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi (2008-2011)
  • Member of the Executive Board of National Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (October 2008-2012)
  • Member of the Apex Committee of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi & Bangalore.
  • Member of the General Council of Lalitha Kala Academy, Karnataka (two terms)
  • Nambiar, Balan (2015). "Veeralipattu, Valampiri Shankha, Kannadi Bimbam". Kottayam, Kerala State, India: DC Books. ISBN 978-81-264-5348-1(Malayalam)
  • Nambiar B. "Ancient Ritual Objects and Modern Sculptures: The Metal Mirrors and Valampiri Conches of Kerala". In History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization: Indian Art, Roddam Narasimha (ed.), pp. 407-422, New Delhi, 2011, ISBN:81-87586-49-4
  • Nambiar B. "The sky is the limit". In S. Pathy( ed.), Angarag, Bhubaneswar, pp. 94-98, 2010
  • Nambiar B. "Ritual, Mythos und Kunsthandwerk" (Rituals, myths and handicrafts). In: Johannes Beltz (ed.), Wenn Masken tanzen - Rituelles Theater und Bronzekunst aus Sudindien. Museum Rietberg, Zurich, pp. 19-55, 2009 (Main text with 34 photographs By BalanNambiar of Bhutas in the catalogue of the exhibition of Masks and Artefacts of Tulunadu, Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 2009)
  • Nambiar B. "When legends come alive". In T. Varghese (ed.) Kerala, pp. 242-243, Stark World, 2006
  • Nambiar B. "Masks in the ritual arts of the west coast of southern India". In S.C. Malik (ed.) Man, Mind and Mask, IGNCA, New Delhi, 2001, pp.267-271, ISBN:81-7305-192-5
  • Nambiar B. "Teyyam, the Ritual Performing Arts of northern Kerala". In History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization: Indian Art, B.N. Goswamy (ed.), pp. 265-277, New Delhi, 2000, ISBN:81-215-0904-1
  • Nambiar B. "Breasts in Indian Mythology, Iconography and Folklore". In A.M. Pluchinotta (ed.) Incanto e Anatomia del Seno, Charta (ed.), Milano, 1997, ISBN 978-88-8158-134-4 (Italian) and in S. Pathy( ed.), Angarag, Bhubaneswar, pp. 15-19, 2008
  • Nambiar B., "Monument to the assassinated and Resurrection of Janaki". In A. Mukhopadhyay (ed.) Art and Nature, Lalit Kala Contemporary - Vol 42, New Delhi, 1996
  • Nambiar B., "Photographing Teyyam" and "Teyyam". In Kerala Progress and Paradox, Indian International Centre Quarterly, n. 2 and 3, pp. 132-142, 1995
  • Nambiar B. "Tai paradevata: Ritual impersonation in the Teyyam tradition of Kerala". In H. Bruckner, L. Lutze, A. Malik (ed.) Flags of fame, Studies in South Asian folk culture, pp. 139-163, South Asia Books, 1993, ISBN 81-7304-049-4
  • Nambiar B. "Teyyam", A. Frenz Herman Gundert, Suddeutsche Verlgsgesellschaft, pp. 255-258, Ulm, 1993, ISBN:3-88294-186-3 (German)
  • Nambiar B., Fisher E. "Patola / Virali pattu - from Gujarat to Kerala", Peter Lang ed., Asiatische Studien 41,2: 120-146, 1987
  • Nambiar B. "Gods and Ghosts - Teyyam and Bhuta rituals". S. Doshi The performing Arts Marg,Guest Editor - VK Narayana Menon, Bombay, 1981, pp 62-73
  • Nambiar B. "Art as a Ritual in Rural Environment" and "A Comparative study of Teyyam and Bhuta rituals" In Teyyam, Sangitha Nataka Academy, Tricchur, 1977 (Malayalam)
  • Articles/photographic features by Balan Nambiar have been published in: Dharmyug (Hindi); Mathrubhumi (Malayalam); Udayavani; Prajamata; Taranga and Sudha (Kannada); Kunstrepoprt and GEO (German); Gente Viaggi (Italian); Marg; Deccan Herald; Frontline; India Today; Sunday; Swissair Gazette; Wings of Gold (Malaysian Airlines); Namaskar (Air India); Rediscovering Karnataka; IIC Quarterly of India International Centre; New Delhi; Art India; idi; a+d; Inside Outside; Architecture + Design; Creative Mind; etc.
  • Suresh Jayaram "Balan Nambiar: Living the tradition" In Bangalore Mirror, Bangalore, Jan 13, 2016
  • Sadanand Menon "Harmony in heavy metal: Sculptures in Stainless Steel by Balan Nambiar", catalogue of the exhibition at Art Heritage, New Delhi, 2005
  • "Innovativa Installations..." In Architecture + DESIGN, vol 29 N 10, Gurgaon, 2012, p. 36-44
  • Deeksha Nath "Symphony in Steel" In Art Deal vol. 3 N. 4, New Delhi, 2005
  • Rajesh Mishra "Symphony in Heavy Metal". Indian Design & Interiors, May 2005, New Delhi, p. 16-22
  • Marta Jakimowicz "Dynamic in static". In ART India vol. X issue ii, Mumbai, 2005, p. 106
  • Aditi De. Articulations, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2004, ISBN-10: 8171677487
  • Aditi De "The art of the ritual". In Man's World vol 3 N. 12, Mumbai, 2003, p. 70-73
  • A. Mukhopadhyay (ed.) Art and Nature, Lalit Kala Akademi, Max Mueller Bhavan, Japan Foudation, New Delhi, 1996
  • Shiraz Ali "An artist in New Moorings" In Travel, Feb. 1994, Trilok Desai, Bombay, 1994, p. 7-11
  • Ajit Dalvi "Art" In Inside Outside, Feb. 1994, Bombay, p. 16-17
  • "Balan Nambiar". Artist Today, Marg Publications, Bombay, p. 49-52, ISBN 81-85026-00-9
  • Alkazi E. Art Heritage 10 1990-91, Art Heritage, New Delhi
  • Sircar A., "To save ritual arts". Frontline, Vol. 7, No. 11, Madras, 1990, ISSN 0970-1710, p. 85-91
  • Khrishna Setty C. S. "Balan Nambiar". Udayavani Deepavali Special, Udupi, 1988, p. 164-174
  • Perocco G. in "La Biennale. Visual Arts 82". Biennale di Venezia, Electa, Milan, pp. 130-131, 1982, ISBN 88-208-0293-7
  • Kunstreport 3/4 1977, Deutscher Kunstlerbund, Frankfurt, 1977