PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED FAMILY COLLECTION
Oil on canvas
33 x 44 1/2 in. (84 x 113 cm.)
Inscribed '33 x 44 1/4' on reverse
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.
The beginning of the 1970s saw a further re-calibration of perspective, which led to a series of landscapes far more expansive in nature, offering multiple, aerial perspectives and a 'bird's-eye view' of the subject depicted. The precise, structured landscapes of the preceding years made way for the more expressionist, free compositions that immediately followed, usually in a sombre palette dominated by browns and umbers with smaller areas of blues and lighter whites providing the perfect complement.
Writing about Ram Kumar's landscapes probably in the same year as the current work was painted, Jaya Appasamy, states, '...the planar qualities are more evident. Large areas slide or rest or are linked to one another in an engagement, there is more spatial play and movement, the lines are less important than the planes... The textures are rough and little accidental and broken edges preserved as detail... The composition of Ram Kumar are related to earth shapes and movements, and are architectonic in their feeling.' (Jaya Appasamy, 'The Paths of Abstraction', Lalit Kala Contemporary 19 & 20, New Delhi, April-September 1975, p. 6)
The forms and lines themselves become more jagged and more facetted, with an increasing number of planes coming together at sharper angles. To accommodate this change in perspective, Ram Kumar also had a corresponding change in technique. The thick layers of pigment he built up on the canvas for the architectural Benaras paintings, have given way to large flat expanses of colour, with thinly applied layers of paint that convey the vast expanse and openness of the landscape he is looking to recreate.
Richard Bartholomew, Ram Kumar's biggest advocate, used William Wordsworth's poem Prelude to describe the works of the post Benaras period, to which both the landscapes in the current sale belong (see lot 36).
'Oft in these moments such a holy calm
Would overspread my soul, that bodily eyes
Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw
Appeared like something in myself, a dream,
A prospect in the mind.'
('The Abstract Principle in the Paintings of Ram Kumar', Lalit Kala Contemporary 19 & 20, New Delhi, April-September 1975, p. 14)
The colours of the original are lighter, brighter and have more tonal variations, especially in all the brown tones of the canvas, when compared to the catalogue illustration. The whites are softer in tone than the catalogue illustration. Fine craquelure visible in the
brown areas in the left half of the painting, some of which appear to have been in-filled when examined under UV light and some minor craquelure in the two smaller brown areas of the lower right quadrant. The painting has been recently cleaned and varnished. Overall
About The Artist:
RAM KUMAR (1924-2018)