A Ramachandran’s 27-day Show of 91 Artworks Begins in Kochi

A stellar exhibition of latest paintings and sculptures by 84-year-old A Ramachandran began in his native state today, marking a milestone in the artscape of Kerala that is hosting its second solo show of the globally acclaimed master.

Settled in Delhi since 1964, Ramachadran’s 91 works of unique style are on display in downtown Ernakulam till this month-end. Culture scholar and former minister M A Baby inaugurated ‘The Mahatma and the Lotus Pond’ that lends insight to the Padma Bhushan awardee’s aesthetic engagements since 2016.

The 27-day event at Durbar Hall Gallery is being organized by the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi (KLA) in association with Vadehra Art Gallery (VAG) based in the national capital. While lotus ponds have been central to several of Ramachandran’s works for three-and-a-half decades, the Kochi show also features a seven-foot bronze sculpture of the epochal Mohandas Gandhi.

“Ramachandran is a towering figure who keeps experimenting with his medium,” said Baby, also an ex-Member of Parliament. “This exhibition is a matter of great pride for us all.”

The October 5-31 show (with no customary break on Mondays) has been curated by R Siva Kumar of Santiniketan, also Ramachandran’s alma mater.

Ramachandran, who was born in Attingal near Thiruvananthapuram, did his Masters in Malayalam literature before leaving for West Bengal in 1957 to pursue the study of art at Visva Bharati University. The LKA’s Durbar Hall venue had hosted his first-ever Kerala show in 2013, with VAG bringing in the master’s 100 selected works done over half a century from 1964.

The current exhibition, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma, features eight oil paintings, 56 watercolour-on-paper and 25 drawings besides the Gandhi sculpture and another depicting crickets on a lotus leaf. Ramachandran said the exhibition’s theme was about ecological degradation in the name of development that completely repudiates the Gandhian view about self-reliant villages for a nation to prosper.

As for his artistic expression, the octogenarian, who has aced his craft with an awesome reputation, said he never sought to imitate anyone. “I owe my style to constant nature watch. It did not happen through random experiments with genres in art,” added the ex-professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, who won the prestigious Kalidas Samman last year and the Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram in 2003.

LKA Chairman Nemom Pushparaj and Secretary Ponniam Chandran hailed Ramachandran as a pivotal figure in India’s contemporary art, while VAG’s Sonia Bellaney recalled the gallery’s quarter-century-old close association with the master.

Three books were released at the inaugural function: ‘The Mahatma and the Lotus Pond’, the Malayalam translation of ‘A Ramachandran Retrospective’ and an LKA publication of the artist’s book on late Ram Kinkar (translated into Malayalam by P Sudhakaran).

On Sunday evening, Prof Siva Kumar will talk on the life of Ramachandran as a multifaceted artist. The presentation, with slides of the master’s works, will be held in TDM Hall at 4 pm. On October 16, critic Sadanand Menon will deliver a lecture on Ramachandran.


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