‘Abandoning his stringent-abstractionist persona, Ramkumar declares himself as an amorist of the landscape. The true object of his art is not to render the landscape, but to love it: the true subject of his art is the landscape as Beloved.’- Ranjit Hoskote
Ramkumar, one of the most prolific names in Indian contemporary art, born in 1924, would be celebrating his 90th birthday on Thursday, 23rd October.
Ramkumar, could be regarded as one of the first-generation of post-independence artists. His contemporaries included the likes of M.F Husain, F.N souza, SH Raza and Akbar Padamsee. He began his artistic journey studying at Sharada Ukil school of Art. He later went to Paris and trained under Andre Lhote and Fernand Legar.
The 20th century modernisms of Paris, Vienna and London served as an inspiration for him combined with a desire to ethnically belong to the homeland- in its inherent Indianness. Ramkumar’s search for an Indian identity has transcended mere motifs and figurations. As an artist his works transformed from figurative works to an abstraction which would define his later works. Having renounced the active engagement with the state and civil society that had earlier characterised his position, the artist had turned gradually inward, choosing to be an internal exile of the spirit. This withdrawal gave him the space to reflect upon the great natural forces that had enthralled him, to gauge their metaphorical import: through his art.
In a conversation with Satyajit Ray, he stated that he was trying to say nothing through his paintings. The nothingness reveals an essence which would otherwise be lost with the preoccupation with forms and figurations. Ramkumar’s works directly connects with on’s inner self and reveals a world of infinite depth and beauty. Ram Kumar received the Padma Shri in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, in 2010.
To commemorate Ramkumar’s 90th birthday, Aakriti Art Gallery, New Delhi would be hosting an exhibition of his drawings from 1960s onwards, curated by Sri Prayag Shukla. The exhibition would be held from 8th-29th of November’2014. The veteran artist himself would be present for the preview, to hold on 7th November, from 7pm onward.