PROPERTY FROM A MUMBAI CORPORATE COLLECTION
Oil on canvas
32 1/4 x 50 in. (82 x 127.2 cm.)
Signed in Devanagari an dated '62' lower right and further signed and inscribed 'BANARAS / RAM KUMAR' on reverse
Although Ram Kumar first visited Benaras in 1960 with his friend and fellow artist M.F. Husain, he took the majority of the decade to work out his complex and multi-faceted response to the City. His works from this period explore his various responses to the sights and sounds before him, culminating in the show of his works at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai in 1968.
Most of the works from this period are typified by the crowded cityscapes with dilapidated buildings spilling over the banks of the river and jostling each other for space. Grid-like patterns piled on top of each other are a common feature of the works; the surface built up with layers of thick paint that contribute to the feeling of an over crowded city.
In contrast, the current work from 1962 shows Benaras from a different perspective. The formal structure of the work has been simplified, and the architectural elements are merely hinted at, surrounded by volumes of empty space. The work is austere and quiet, a commentary on the bleakness not of the landscape or the architecture, but the underlying ethos of the Holy City. Talking about a similar work from 1965, Richard Bartholomew comments 'Ram Kumar reminds me of poetry; his painting is poetry... there is in this work a brown sandwich filling between the typical greys of texture and tone that he is to explore further and process. Abstract as stiller abstracts go, and yet rooted deeply in the total picture which is a landscape and not the representation of a scene, the painting is an epilogue to the Banaras period. There is, as I see it, no mystery of mood, no mixing of metaphors.' (Richard Bartholomew, 'Ram Kumar' exhibition catalogue, Kunika, November, 1961, reproduced in Richard Bartholomew, The Art Critic, New Delhi, 2012, p. 136)
About The Artist:
RAM KUMAR (1924 - 2018)