Ram Kumar (b. 1924)
- Ram Kumar
- Signed and dated 'RAM KUMAR/ 58' lower right
Oil on canvas
- 27 1/2 by 20 1/4 in. (69.9 by 51.4 cm.)
In 1958 Ram Kumar participated in the Venice Biennale and in the same year his works were exhibited in London at the Gallery One exhibition 'Seven Indian Painters in Europe.' Ram Kumar painted this work during his visit to Britain in 1958 and it was possibly exhibited as part of the Gallery One show.
From the mid 1950s Ram Kumar produced a series of figurative works that in part provide a commentary on the despair experienced by so many in post-Independence urban India. His forlorn figures stare out of bleak urban landscapes, and in part they reflect the characters he portrays in his first fictional work of 1953, Ghar Bane Ghar Toote. 'The figures he paints of refugees or of urban squatters displaced from their village homes, are scarred and diseased, emotionally shattered and lonely. The paintings of this period should be read as ironic parables of the defeat, humiliation and ruin that became the fate of millions of people soon after Independence.' (Alok Bhalla, Introductory Essay, The Sea and Other stories by Ram Kumar, Shimla, 1997, p. xv).
Interestingly in the current work from the late 1950s the bleak urban landscape remains but the figures themselves are no longer present and this work might therefore be seen as a transitional phase between his figurative phase and the austere more abstracted forms of his 1960s landscapes. In the late 1950s by ridding his canvases of the characters he portrays in his writing he allows himself the freedom to follow independent paths in his two chosen art forms. As a writer he remains focused on social concerns whilst as a painter he expresses a more personal vision of the world, nonetheless the two art forms continue to share certain common characteristics.
'There is a visionary link between his paintings and his stories. Both are characterised by an asceticism of form. If there are no extravagant lines in his drawings, there are no melodramatic gestures in his stories. The melancholic stillness that settles over his city landscape is analogous to the arid silence that separates the characters he creates. The severe beauty of colors in his sketchbooks finds its equivalent in the sad cadence of sentence in his writing. His landscapes are remote, alien, threatening; his stories are sad, troubled and brooding.' (ibid, p. ix)