Born in Keerambur Village in Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu in 1938. KM Adimoolam graduated with a Diploma in Advanced Painting from the Govt. College of Arts and Craft, Chennai in 1966. He held his first one-man show of his Drawings in 1966 in his home town, Chennai. In 1969, to mark the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi he did a show titled ‘100 drawings on Mahatma Gandhi’. His series of black and white drawings of Mahatma Gandhi captured the essence of the Mahatma. Since that time there was no looking back. Adimoolam exhibited regularly. In the earlier part of his career he exhibited both his oil paintings on canvas as well as his drawings at Sarla Art Centre in Chennai and at Kritika and Kala Yatra in Bangalore. Later he regularly held his solo shows at Crimson in Bangalore, Sakshi and Values Art Foundation in Chennai and Dhoomimal in New Delhi. Wanting to show his work to a wider audience, Adimoolam regularly exhibited at the public Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai and at the British Council in Chennai. The winner of many awards, notably the National Award in 1979, he has a number of individual and group shows to his credit. Between 1964 and 1985, he was invited to participate in the National Exhibitions of Art, New Delhi. The Lalit Kala Academi acquired his work from those early shows. He has participated in the 6th Trinnale in 1986 in New Delhi; 19th Sao Paulo International Biennale in 1987; Rimbaud ’91’ in France, and has shown in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Adimoolam served as the Indian Commissioner for the III Ankara Biennale in Turkey and was a Single Jury for the National Exhibition.
Adimoolam worked at the Weavers Service centre for several years till 1990. He was one of the first few eminent artists to give up a steady job in the pursuit of his art. He made many friends with his humble and down to earth demeanor. Young artists sought him out for advice, which was direct and from the heart. He published his book of Drawings ‘Between the Lines’ in 1996. It is with admiration that the viewer reacts to Adimoolam’s drawings… his wizardry with pen and ink. The line without colour is very strong. A range of colour is embedded within the line. Street theatre performances are vivid memories in Adimoolam’s mind and he converted these into memorable drawings evoking nostalgic village storytelling performances. Adimoolam’s intricate web of lines coupled with his consummate techniques of wash swiftly captured the essence of his subject. His association with Tamil writers was instrumental in popularizing art on covers of books published in Tamil. His King Series and Space series are very sought after by collectors. Today, his works are regularly seen at auctions.
Adimoolam’s abstract paintings are dramatic visions in colour. They are very different from his figurative drawings but have a lot in commonality with his space series. Some of the early works were titled ‘The Land I Chase” and this typifies his continuous search for that mystical aspect of nature. The broad swishes of the palette knife or brush reveal shapes of varying depths that move towards each other and mirror his vision of nature in all its glory. The oil paintings are not just visual reproductions but are a sort of representation of the emotion the nature invokes in the viewer. The light shifts through the forms and envelopes the whole surface of the canvas. He lived and worked in Chennai till he passed away in 2008.