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Ram Kumar (b. 1924) Benares Signed in Devanagari and dated '84' lower left Oil on canvas 27¾ x 38 in. (70.5 x 97 cm.)

Lot Essay

In 1960 Ram Kumar visited Benares for the first time and was deeply affected and inspired by the landscape of the Holy City. It is also at this stage that he began to abandon figurative painting in favor of landscapes. Over the last forty years, Benares has remained an integral part of his oeuvre, and he has depicted the city in a variety of forms.

In this particular view, '...the box-like buildings, though bare and aloof, had a lighter touch, fragile and tremulous, like the glimmering reflections on the river. The houses, as they ascend(ed) upward toward the sky, seem like so many tiers of steps of an amphitheatre, but instead of spectators, we see there, among the crevasses of shadows only the vacant eyes of the windows blinking over the haze of the river.' (Nirmal Verma, Ram Kumar, New Delhi, Vadehra Art Gallery, 2001.)

In his depiction of the 'eternal' city, Ram Kumar seems to have found an external reality that coincides perfectly with an inner vision. ' I almost saw a new world, very strange, very familiar, very much my own.... Every sight was like a new composition, a still life artistically organized to be interpreted in colors. It was not merely outward appearances which were fascinating but they were vibrant with an inner life of their own, very deep and profound, which left an everlasting impression on my artistic sensibility. I could feel a new visual language emerging from the depths of an experience.' (As told to G. Gill, Ram Kumar: A Journey Within, New Delhi, 1996, p. 89.)


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