A. Ramachandran Indian, 1935-2024


Born in 1935 in Attingal, Kerala, A. Ramachandran graduated with a degree in Malayalam literature from Kerala University before pursuing a diploma in fine arts and crafts from Kala Bhavan, Visva University, at Santiniketan.


Deeply influenced by Indian classical art and Nandalal Bose in particular, Ramachandran was a master of Indian aesthetics by painting archetypal Indian imagery and socio-political symbols in a modernist vein. 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 underwent a vital change. From urban reality, he shifted his focus towards tribal community life, especially the tribes from Rajasthan, whose lives and culture gripped his imagination. Decorative elements, dramatic ambiences and myths have become an integral part of his work along with his powerful line and a greater understanding of colour and form.


A recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2005, Ramachandran has several other prestigious awards to his credit, including the Raja Ravi Verma Puruskar in 2003 and the National Award for painting in both 1973 and 1969.


He has been exhibited at important institutions, including Lalit Kala Akademi, Kochi (2019); Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2018); the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA (2017); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2013); the Art Museum of Seoul National University (2008); the Singapore Museum of Art (2007); National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi (2004); the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (1970); and Kyoto Municipal Museum (1970), among others. He has also participated in several solo shows, including Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2015, 2013); Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi and Kochi (2014); Grosvenor Vadehra, London (2008); Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and New York (2007–08); and Nami Island, Korea (2005), to name a few. Important retrospective exhibitions of his work have been organized by Vadehra Art Gallery in 2004, as well as the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, in 2003; Kumar Gallery at Art Heritage, New Delhi, and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 1983.

Equally proficient with large-scale murals as with intimate miniatures, Ramachandran’s contribution to public art in India is highly celebrated. His rock sculpture at Sriperumbathoor is possibly the largest commission of public art in modern India. In 1986, he was invited to Japan as one of the keynote speakers at the 20th Congress of International Board on Books for Young People, Tokyo, and the International Symposium of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People, Oita. In 1996, he participated in a workshop campaign for literacy and illustrations in Papua New Guinea as part of an international team of experts for UNESCO. Ramachandran also has several books to his credit, including Hanuman, which was acquired by the Kijo Picture Book Village, Miyazaki, Japan,; Golden City, published by Sanyu-Sha, Japan; six children’s books along with his wife, Chameli, published by Thomson Press, India; as well as illustrated forty books for children written by Malayalam writers, among other notable publications.


The artist passed away in New Delhi in 2024.


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