Oil on canvas
70 x 40 1/4 in. (177 x 102.2 cm.)
Signed and dated in Devanagari lower left and further signed, dated and inscribed 'Ram Kumar 69 / 70 x 40' on reverse
Acquired directly from the artist.
Gagan Gill, ed., Ram Kumar: A Journey Within, New Delhi, 1996, p. 111, illustrated (detail).
'There is a spatial quality in the recent painting (1970 onwards), a sense of light, of movement, and there is an aerial perspective (sometimes a series of perspectives), and it seems that the painter is looking at landscape in a number of ways and from different angles and points of view. Many of the forms in these recent paintings refer to and resemble the forms in the violently facetted and fragmented background of the paintings of the mid-1950s. The increasing mastery Ram had acquired over paint - the movement there is in paint applied sensitively, and with a purpose - made Ram decide to go the whole way, into abstract painting... sometimes it was the lyricism inherent in nature which determined the tones of his painting and functioned as illumination. Ram seemed to have understood what Wordsworth said: "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."' (Richard Bartholomew, 'The Abstract as a Pictorial Proposition', Lalit Kala Contemporary 19-20, New Delhi, April-September 1975, p. 11)
At the end of the 1960s, Ram Kumar's work undergoes a noticeable change. The previous two decades had focused first on the human condition, as depicted through the poignant, figurative works of the 1950s, where the common man's concerns were captured in the lonely, alienated figures standing awkwardly in a crowded cityscape. This was followed by a period where the architecture and man-made structures on the crowded banks of the River Ganges in Benaras formed the defining feature of the works which evolved into semi-abstracted landscapes, redolent with elements of various Indian cities.
This was followed by a re-calibration of perspective which led to a series of landscapes that became far more expansive in nature, offering multiple perspectives and a 'bird's-eye view' of the subject depicted. 1969, the year of the current painting, was a critical year, as it marked the moment of change from the precise, structured landscapes of the preceding years to the more expressionist, free compositions that were to immediately follow. Interestingly, the current work with its sharp angles and wedges of colour set against a darker ground in tones of brown and green, was created in the same year as The Ruins, a work characterised by geometric grids demarcating structures in thickly applied textured tones of umber, blue and white.
The elements of this newly emerging phase were just beginning to reveal themselves at this time. As Richard Bartholomew explains, 'Everything from the past is there. There is movement and a kind of bird's-eye view of the landscape. Wedges of land and expanses of water; demarcations of land as arid and fertile; febrile rock and luxuriant vegetation; sunlight and shade; moisture; mist. The actors have melted into thin air... It has been a long journey through nature and life to be able to see things in this way and from this perspective.' (Richard Bartholomew, ibid. p. 14)
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About The Artist:
RAM KUMAR (1924-2018)