"In 1961 while a student at Santiniketan, Ramachandran began frequenting the city of Calcutta. He was deeply affected by the socio-political situation in the city and his work was influenced by the poverty and human suffering he witnessed. 'Coming from Kerala where poverty was relative rather than absolute, the abject poverty he encountered on the streets of Calcutta was traumatic and beyond comprehension. Nearly fifteen years after Independence the post-famine and post-partition upheavals and conflicts were still tragically alive. With the continuing influx of refugees and migrants there were people everywhere -- living on railway platforms, on the pavements, in refugee colonies -- trying to find a foothold in the most dehumanising of circumstances. And for the next fifteen years it kept booming in his head and reverberating in his work." (R. Siva Kumar, Ramachandran: A Retrospective, New Delhi, 2003, pp. 69-70)
In this 1967 painting and prepatory drawing of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which references the painting Crucifixion, 1502 by the German Renaissance artist Matthias Grünewald (1470-1528), as noted in the prepatory drawing, Ramachandran depicts the emaciated, suffering body through the image of the body of Christ. In Grünewald's depiction of Christ, the cloth he wears is tattered and discolored. Ramachandaran echoes this effect by creating the cloth with short and quick lines in the drawing. This is juxtaposed to the smoothness of the cloth in the painting, where shading creates deep folds in the fabric that gently hangs, showing a variety of techniques the artist considers for various stylistic effects to evoke texture and materiality. He reworks this study for his painting of Crucifixion, in which the fabric represents a ghost or spirit that hangs eerily from the body behind.