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A Ramachandran

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1935, Kerala, India
Lives and works in New Delhi and Kochi

A Ramachandran, trained at Santiniketan, draws elements from Indian classical art and mythology as seen in his major works. His paintings are inspired by the Ajanta murals, Nathadwara paintings and Indian history and speak of Indian aesthetics. The artist returned to this classical Indian style of painting only after years of painting in modernist style. His early works were based on issues of oppression, violence, war and socio political situation in the country. His painting titled ‘Yayati’ was a landmark in his artistic journey as he developed and mastered his own style of representing elements from Indian mythology in the contemporary form.

Education

1965

Ph. D. 'Mural Painting of Kerala', Visva Bharati, India

1961

Diploma in Fine Arts and Crafts ,Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, India

1957

M.A.(Malayalam Literature), Kerala University, India

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LIFE AND WORK

MAPPING THE ARTIST

31

Gallery Show Solo

18

Countries exhibited in

3

Museum Show Solo

0

International / national residencies

51

Years in Practice

40

Auctions

2

Special Projects

4

Biennales

3

Museum/public collections

12

Museum Show Group

41

Publications

9

Awards

63

Gallery Show Group

1

Art Fairs

UNDERSTANDING A Ramachandran

Ramachandran represents elements from Indian mythology in contemporary form

Initial works by Ramachandran were based on issues related to urban life and socio political conditions of the country. This initial body of paintings was made in modernist style and had powerful figuration. By the '80s, however, Ramachandran's work underwent a drastic change. He developed a unique style of painting deriving elements from classical Indian art, history and Indian mythology, representing them in contemporary form. He was deeply influenced by the vibrant culture of a tribal community in Rajasthan which helped in developing his style. Simultaneously, he was also influenced by the murals in the temples in Kerala and Indian myths. The first series in this new style of painting was titled ‘Yayati’. He used the character of Yayati to critique on modern men, but through the images of Bhil women from Rajasthan. Yayati is a man who is constantly searching for pleasure. An amalgam of his knowledge of the murals with the cultural richness of India led to creation of a unique blend of art that is distinctly his own.

A Ramachandran, Ushas, Yayati, 1986, oil on canvas, 20 x 8"

He draws inspiration from nature and uses vibrant colours in his paintings

Elements drawn from nature, relaying different moods and processes of nature can be seen in Ramachandran’s artistic oeuvre. He depicts nature’s lush abundance, growth and decay, fragility and strength found in nature. His paintings use vibrant colours with a strong sense of composition and recreate the magical beauty of nature. Dark clouds gathering on horizon, insects crawling in dense vegetation, birds flying by, ponds filled with lotuses and flowers blooming everywhere, contributing to the overall drama, painted in vibrant hues are an integral part of his paintings. He creates a sense of awe in the paintings which are a treat for eyes and mind equally.

A Ramachandran, Umblical Creeper Carpet, 2012, oil on canvas

A Ramachandran, Lotus Pond with Hyacinths, 2009, oil on canvas

Ramachandran often includes his own images in his works

Ramachandran has a tendency to include himself in some form on the vast canvas of his paintings. He tries to portray his own recognition in the paintings, as attempted in ‘Yayati’.  Influenced by the Gandharva images in Kerala murals, he creates his image as the narrator of the story and in the process he found that his hairstyle and drooping moustache could be interesting motifs in the paintings adding personal touch. He later found himself portraying himself as a bird, a bull, insects, and other endless creatures in his works. In his series of works titled ‘Self-portrait as Insect’, 1992, we see the artist making portraits of himself in the form of insects.

A Ramachandran, Self-portrait as Insect, 1992, oil on canvas, 18 x 18"

A Ramachandran's works have a spiritual nature

Ramachandran believes that all art is spiritual and the same is reflected in his works. Understanding the principles of nature whether it is a tree, humans, animals, landscape or a rock and the endless discoveries or observations one can make, makes art a never ending experience and gives it a spiritual nature. Identifying this structure by keen observation and transforming it into an image of our own, a visual image that resonates with the core idea is the key behind his art. He believes that this is the highest way of reaching god, the most powerful form of prayer and an ultimate spiritual experience.

A Ramachandran, Lotus Pond-Night, 1990, oil on canvas, 7’1" x 6"

Bibliography