RAM KUMAR (1924-2018)
RAM KUMAR (1924-2018)


RAM KUMAR (1924-2018)
indistinctly signed, dated and inscribed ' Ram Kumar 77 / 40 x 55 ' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
39 7/8 x 55 in. (101.3 x 139.7 cm.)
Painted in 1977
Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
Acquired from the above

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Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department

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Lot Essay

“To trace Ram Kumar’s evolution as a painter is to map the course of contemporary Indian painting: in the spiritual crises he has undergone, the choices of style he has made, we see reflected the tensions of an unfolding post-colonial modernity, full of surprises and uncertainties. Ram Kumar has broken his pilgrimage at several way-stations of experiment” (R. Hoskote, ‘The Poet of the Visionary Landscape’, Ram Kumar: A Journey Within, New Delhi, 1996, p. 36).

In the 1970s, Ram Kumar embarked on a new and significant phase in his now iconic abstract landscape paintings. As critic, Geeta Kapur explains, “These paintings are full of allusions to nature; nature as seen and felt in a tropical country. He paints with the colour of the sky and earth; the sandy grain of the pigment suggests a riverbed or a seashore. The shapes, perhaps a consequence of these initial allusions, can be read as props in a scenario: a broken shack, a bit of fence, a bush, a beam of wood. The shadow of a bird in flight, streaking across the golden plains. But these references should not be overstressed. It is the sensations in nature to which he is now most keenly attuned: the dazzlement of sunlight, the exhilaration of high breeze, the heat from a sun-scorched earth […] He has come out into the open, rejoicing in the sensuousness of nature. Sand, sea, dust tracts and sky, the sites are now propitious; occasions for exuberant memories and swept with gusty winds” (G. Kapur, Contemporary Indian Artists, New Delhi, 1978, p. 85).

The present lot, a monumental windswept landscape from 1977, is situated precisely within the context Kapur eloquently describes. Abstracted forms in tones of brown are suggestive of both natural and manmade forms, and the jewel like blues and turquoises in the upper right draw the eye towards a suggested horizon, an illusion perhaps of sea or sky. Although the viewer’s eye seeks to impose a narrative and recognizable forms with every viewing, what stays in the mind is the joyful sense of freedom that every inch of this exquisite canvas expresses.

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