Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Elegiac figuration soaked in tragic modernism

A visionary link seems to exist between Ram Kumar’s paintings and his stories. If his landscapes appear remote and alien, the latter come with a tinge of sadness and a brooding feel to them. Stylistically and thematically, Ram Kumar’s amazing oeuvre grips your mind and heart.

His early works included elegiac figuration, exuding the excruciating spirit of tragic Modernism even as he drew upon exemplars such as Edward Hopper, Kathe Kollwitz, Georges Rouault and Gustave Courbet. Infused with a great ideological fervor, he dedicated himself to constructing an iconography of victimhood and depression. The paintings imbued with a touch of melancholic Realism not only reflected his acute disillusionment with the anonymity and monotony of urban existence, but also alluded to the disillusionment with unfulfilled promises after India’s Independence. These compositions represented a significant phase of the country’s post-Independence art.

Analyzing Ram Kumar’s growth trajectory, art critic Ranjit Hoskote has noted in an essay: "He spent the first decade of India's independence, perfecting an elegiac figuration imbued with the spirit of tragic modernism. To this period belong those lost souls: the monumental Picassoesque figures packed into a darkened picture-womb, terrorized workers, emaciated doll-women and the bewildered clerks trapped in the industrial city."

His wonderful works have been showcased in India and internationally over the last six decades and more at major venues across the world, apart from several group exhibitions, including 'Paper Trails', Vadehra, Delhi; 'The Progressives & Associates', Grosvenor Gallery, London; 'From Miniature to Modern', Rob Dean Art, London courtesy Pundole, Mumbai; 'Master Class', The Arts Trust, Mumbai (2010); 'Indian Art After Independence’, Emily Lowe Gallery, Hempstead; 'Progressive to Altermodern', Grosvenor, London, and 'Tracing Time', Bodhi Art, Mumbai (2009).

Retrospectives of his works have been held at NGMA (1994) and Jehangir Art Gallery courtesy Vadehra, Delhi (1994); Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal (1986), and Birla Museum, Kolkata (1980). Among his recent participations are '10th Anniversary Show', Tao gallery, Mumbai; annual exhibitions of Chawla Art Gallery, and Kumar Art Gallery, Delhi (2010); 'Paz Mandala', LKA, Delhi, and 'Moderns', Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan (2008-09). The veteran artist has won several honors and awards, such as Officers Arts et Letters, France (2003); Kalidas Samman, Madhya Pradesh government (1986); Padma Shri, Government of India (1972); J. D. Rockefeller III Fellowship, New York (1970), and the national awards (1956, 1958). 

No comments:

Post a Comment