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Art Watch : A Ramachandran

A Ramachandran is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across nay discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 

Ramachandran had a typical literary bent but one who had always had art as a constant companion since childhood. He has worn many hats in his lifetime, writer, lecturer, painter, artist, children’s book author and sculptor to name but a few. In his painter avatar for me the most striking aspect of his work is the print quality they have.

One of India’s most distinguished and prolific artists, his art reverberates with the lyricism of classical Indian art and its quest for evolving a distinct idiom not just for itself but also a panoramic view of India itself. His art thus celebrates both the personal and the political at the same time as the rich colours, motifs and effervescent human figures so symptomatic of ‘India’ at times also include the artist’s figure somewhere lurking in the background, watching them, as it were.

Why A Ramachandran?

Literature from Kerala University before pursuing a Diploma in Fine Arts and Crafts from Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan. It was his proximity to literature that gives his art a mythological impetus. Deeply influenced by the art of Nandalal Bose, Ramachandran is supporter for Indian aesthetics and for the use of classical Indian images to articulate an ideological position. Ramachandran, famously converted to using prototypical Indian imagery only after years of painting in the modernist vein.

In his earlier works, Ramachandran depicted the harsh, gruesome reality of the world with dark, tortured images. His artistic idiom however changed subsequently to something more life affirming, and celebratory of life recognising its power to heal. The prevalent socio-political turmoil in Kerala, egged his ideas thus the preoccupation with dismembered human figures were.

He has incorporated aspects of Indian classical art, and they are an integral part of his creations. These include the compound motifs and imagery, decorative elements along with the exuberance of forms and colours. Ramachandran has been inspired extensively by the Kerala murals, Nathadwara paintings and Ajanta murals, which appear in shades in his works.  However he is not given into the decorative element too much.

The bold and graphic lines, the colour blocking, and the interplay between the background and foreground is hypnotic.

Artistic Journey

Ramachandran believes that ‘Yayati’ which was one of his monumental works, was one of his landmark pieces marking his growth as an artist. ‘Yayati’ allowed him to incorporate elements of classical proportions and postures in his work. Executed as a narrative, it compelled Ramachandran to use Indian mythological imagery in a contemporary form.

Ramachandran has had several solo shows, some of which include ‘Recent Works’ at Grosvenor Vadehra, London, in 2008; ‘Face to Face: Art Practice of A Ramachandran’ at the Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and New York, in 2007-08; and ‘Illustrations of Gaudi’s Ocean’ at Nami Island, South Korea, in 2005. His retrospectives have featured in the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, in 2003; and by Kumar Gallery at Art Heritage, New Delhi, and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 1983. Ramachandran has also participated in several group shows including ‘Progressive to Altermodern’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 2009; and many others.

Ramachandran was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2005 and the Raja Ravi Verma Puraskar by the Government of Kerala in 2003.

The artist lives and works in New Delhi and Kochi.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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