ELEGY FOR AN OLD GRASS-CUTTER
ELEGY FOR AN OLD GRASS-CUTTER
PROPERTY OF AN EMINENT COLLECTOR
Oil on canvas
69 1/4 x 69 1/8 in. (175.9 x 175.5 cm.)
Signed, dated and inscribed 'Vivan Sundaram / 3/9 Shanti Niketan / New Delhi.21 / VIVAN SUNDARAM / 'Elegy for an old grass-cutter'. 1988 / 69 x 69 inches / oil on canvas' on reverse
International Festival of Art, Baghdad, 1988.
Vivan Sundaram, Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi, 15-28 February, 1990.
Vivan Sundaram, Chemould Gallery, Mumbai, 10-31 March, 1990.
Vivan Sundaram, exhibition catalogue, Shridharani Gallery and Chemould Gallery, New Delhi, 1990, unpaginated, illustrated.
Vivan Sundaram started out as a narrative painter, choosing to depict current affairs and other topics that caught his attention. While he eventually moved on to conceptual art, his early works thoroughly exploited his skill with oil paint. Vivan was part of the second-generation Modernists that graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. His early figurative works reflected his academic training, 'Vivan Sundaram's figures are embedded in the social milieu and the landscape looming with a latent force, and at times with combustive / explosive energy of some cataclysmic event. The spatial arrangement in these paintings allows the eye to hover, as the artist creates different registers of memory, moving between past and present, commanding a certain fluidity and melting the horizon.' (Press Release on the occasion of Vivan Sundaram Step inside and you are no longer a stranger: A Retrospective, 50 years, www.knma.in)
The current work and the following lot were exhibited in Mumbai and Delhi in 1990. Fellow artist Nilima Sheikh explains that the contradictory forces of 'his way of seeing the world and how he wants to' is what motivates Vivan, and this juxtaposition is what lends a highly dramatic air to his paintings. 'There is the artist's sensibility, what he has grown with, moulded by experience and circumstance, and there is how he wishes to change, upturn or radicalise all of this by his own volition.' (Nilima Sheikh, 'Orchestration', Vivan Sundaram, exhibition catalogue, Shridharani Gallery and Chemould Gallery, New Delhi, 1990, unpaginated)
The paintings from this period follow Quintal of Grass from 1986 and are also done in thick oil paint, with textured surfaces and jewelled tones. Within the painting itself, the artist has used different brush strokes for the various elements depicted, creating a dynamic and lively surface. Nilima Sheikh explains, '...he can manipulate paint surfaces, colour and spaces into iridescent atmosphere and astonishing geography... I am often entranced by their intense, controlled colouration. Equally fine tuned is a matching, complementing or contrasting tonal notation. The word that has always come to mind is orchestration.' (ibid.)
The current painting and the following lot were exhibited together and won the Gold Medal at the International Festival of Art in Baghdad in 1988.
About The Artist:
VIVAN SUNDARAM (b. 1943)