Gallery Collection: Landscapes

26 May - 30 June 2017

With landscapes and drawings there seems to be a commonality, that of fluidity and change. As for a landscape and its drawing, there seems to be a disparity, that of time. While landscape by its definition and function continues to evolve and grow, the drawing of it freezes a moment in time for a landscape. So while the landscape remains elusive and temporary, the drawing or a photograph of it seeks to eternalize a moment in which the landscape existed.In this exhibition, we see the works of four master artists, each of whom have a different relationship to drawings and landscapes.

Ram Kumar’s landscapes often straddle the boundaries between abstraction and naturalism, quoting both but succumbing to neither. With a cool palette of aquas, blues, grays, and tawny yellows, his prime motifs oscillate between the numerous visitations to he made to Banaras and the open vistas that are in essence painterly vestiges of his life’s journey. By banishing the figure he was able to emphasize the nullification of humanity, and to deploy architecture and landscape as metaphors articulating cultural and psychological fragmentation. He translates the landscape in to a system of line, planes, blocks; their machine-edged logic, entering into dialogue with texture and tone, governs the distribution of significant masses over the picture space. He states his art is about the rediscovery of elemental origins within the lingua franca of the landscape, the translation and storage of essential energies, the spiritual properties of meditative melancholia. His ‘abstractions’ are not flights into the ‘unknown’ but like shifting beams of light they move, passing through the entire space of the painting, from one segment of reality to another, uncovering the hidden relations, between the sky, the rock, the river. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.

Chameli Ramachandran strikes a distinct note in Indian art. She transmutes her keen observation of nature to a meditative study through her sensitive, fluid brushwork. The flower studies and the landscapes that she has done over the years bear testimony to her singular approach to natural objects and scenes. Chameli Ramachandran has painted lotuses, peonies, chrysanthemums, carnations, lilies and other unnamed flowers, many of these flowers she studied while she went for her winter sojourn to Toronto. But she moves beyond naturalistic botanical studies, into a subliminal level of contemplation. She transforms an individual flower into an almost abstract form, while keeping their delicate texture and translucent hues to capture the flower’s lightness. Many of these flowers like the lotus, chrysanthemum and peony have had a long history of representation in Asian art, which she recalls as she develops her compositions. Her response to nature has been shaped by her Chinese heritage and her growing up in Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan.The artist lives and works in New Delhi.

Paramjit Singh’s brush charts a course on the canvas that gives the viewer panoramic visions of mystic landscapes. The bush, coated with thick pigment, does not rest before it has filled the entire surface; before the paint has ensured that all the natural forms in the frame have been given a colourful, tactile presence. The dappled areas of the sky and water too are rendered with a tactile feel. The lines etching out the grass, the leaves, the peduncle, seem to be possessed by a mysterious, lyrical musicality. The artist’s paintings create a continuum or series, evading the risk of self-duplication. Working both in the realist and the representational style, Singh’s canvases are gentle explorations of the possibilities that lie beyond the urban world that surrounds us; beyond the noises and sounds and streets packed with vehicles. Singh’s art is significant in its creation of a space for itself, and of an aesthetic haven for its viewers. The New Delhi based artist is influenced by the French painters of the 19th century, he was drawn to how light was painted by the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and German Expressionists. Describing himself as a painter of nature, he says “What matters is the concept of landscape. I am a painter of nature, not an illustrator of nature. I paint the moods and its older elements, like the air, texture…I use nature and I invent my landscape”.

A Ramachandran initially painted in an Expressionistic style that reflected the angst of urban life, particularly the suffering he saw when visiting the city of Kolkata, but by the 1980s his style had undergone a vital change. From urban reality he moved his focus towards tribal community life, especially the tribes from Rajasthan, whose lives and culture gripped his imagination. The vibrant ethos of Rajasthan and his research on the mural paintings of Kerala influenced his expression. The decorative elements and myths became an integral part of his works and his powerful line along with a greater understanding of colour and form created a dramatic ambience. His sculptures, which he made in the later years, were almost three dimensional translations of his paintings, containing multiple narratives and mythological interpretations. As a student at Kala Bhavan in Santineketan, Ramachandran studied art under masters like Ramkinkar Baij and Benodebehari Mukherjee. The cultural and intellectual milieu of Santiniketan drew him closer to the art traditions of India and other eastern civilizations and it is here that he began his lifelong research on the Mural Painting tradition of temples in Kerala. The artist lives and works at New Delhi