Select paintings and sculptures of the world-renowned A Ramachandran will be on display in his native state in October, as the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi (KLA) is hosting a 27-day exhibition that focuses on the octogenarian’s latest artworks.
The October 5-31 show, titled ‘The Mahatma and the Lotus Pond’, in downtown Ernakulam will feature 91 works of the master. The event, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of the iconic Mohandas Gandhi, is being organised by Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery (VAG) and curated by art scholar R Siva Kumar.
The venue will be the KLA-owned Durbar Hall Gallery, which had held in 2013 Ramachandran’s first-ever exhibition in his state. The artist-author, born in Attingal near Thiruvananthapuram, is a Padma Bhushan awardee living in Delhi for more than half a century, after having done his studies at the famed Santiniketan in West Bengal.
The lotus ponds have been a recurring theme in Ramachandran’s works since the mid-1980s, while the upcoming Kochi show will show the latest in that series during the past three years. It will also feature a sculpture of Gandhi the artist did in 2016, reveals Prof Siva Kumar of Santiniketan.
“The journey of a serious artist like Ramachandran is a constantly evolving project,” notes the curator. “In a sense, it is incremental growth in his depth of engagement and enrichment of the original ideas rather than dramatic shifts that mark his work.”
Overall, the exhibition will have eight oil paintings, 56 watercolour-on-paper, 25 drawings and two sculptures. VAG’s earlier Ramachandran show in Kochi was August 2013, when the gallery had brought 100 of his ‘Selected Works from 1964-2013’, with Prof Siva Kumar as the curator.
Ramachandran, 84, did his Masters in Malayalam literature before leaving for West Bengal in 1957 to pursue the study of art at Visva-Bharati University under masters such as Ramkinkar Baij, Nandalal Bose and Benodebehari Mukherjee. The artist shifted to Delhi in 1964, and went on to teach at Jamia Millia Islamia in the national capital for 27 years before taking voluntary retirement. In 2002, he was elected a Fellow at the Lalit Kala Akademi.
The next year, he was awarded the Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram and, in 2005, conferred the country’s third-highest civilian honour.