A Ramachandran | Earthen Pot: Image Poems 2016

21 April - 15 July, 2016 | D-40 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024

‘Earthen Pot - Image Poems 2016’ is an exhibition of twenty-one drawings by artist A Ramachandran. The works were made in North America, on one of the artist’s visits to the country. Ramachandran refers to his earlier series of works on Udaipur and recreates aspects of fertility, memory, through landscapes which were central to the series. Three motifs recur predominantly in the colored drawings: that of the tree and the vitality of nature; the self portrait of the artist as if enveloped inside the womb of the earthen pot; and the woman as the central figure.

 His research and keen study of the Barahmasa and Ragamala paintings as well as the mural painting traditions has informed Ramachandran’s works in subtle and yet telling ways. The Ragamala and Barahmasa paintings, known to represent the ragas in Indian Classical Music through the different times of the day and the evocation of different moods during the changing seasons in twelve months of the year - Ramachandran seeks to experiment with the visual dictionaries that these medieval era paintings have created.

 The series explores ‘mood’ as evoked visually and through compositions. Balanced, and detailed, the drawings essentially are about a longing and yearning to be in the midst of nature as if dreamt by the artist. The central figure of the woman is again a reference to and a derivation from his earlier works as the symbol of fertility, while different kinds of birds and creatures also add to the mystery of the works. The contrast of colours that defines most of his other drawings and paintings subsides to give way to a subdued color palette which defines the drawings in a much more fluid manner. Filled with textures the details create complex and invigorating body of work.

 About the artist

A recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2005, Ramachandran has several other prestigious awards to his credit. Some of them include the Raja Ravi Verma Puruskar in 2003 and the National Award for Painting in both 1973 and 1969. As a student at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan, 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.

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.

The artist lives and works in New Delhi