Lot 49
  • 49

Ram Kumar (b. 1924)

200,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Ram Kumar
  • Untitled
  • Signed in Devanagari and dated '68' lower right
  • Oil on canvas
  • 41 1/4 by 70 in. (104.5 by 178 cm.)

Catalogue Note

Over the course of the 1960s Ram Kumar's work veered towards pure abstraction and by the end of the decade the elements of his landscapes had been reduced to barely recognizable forms juxtaposed in shifting vertical and horizontal planes. In this work, Ram Kumar's landscape straddles the boundaries between abstract and realism, moving away from his typical arid and mountainous depictions to a more fertile portrayal of the landscape through layered planes of muted greens and deep ochre. Color and complexity of imagery determine the mood of the painting.

'In the 1960s and 70s there is a radical shift in Ram Kumar's work, the paintings continue to be austere and anguished but they cease to include human figures.  It is as if he decides to give up on man and his social fate, and tries to find his own solitary path towards vision.  The quest is hard and long.  In the citylandscapes he paints over these two decades, empty houses, which seem to collide with each other, are scratched out of black restless lines on brown and grey backgrounds.  There is no sky to lighten the melancholy and no trees to break the monotony of stone and earth.  Even Varanasi, which he paints obssessively, is not a city of pilgrims, priests, temples and lights, but a city which is slowly sinking into primeaval mud.' (Alok  Bhalla, Introductory Essay, The Sea and Other Stories by Ram Kumar, Shimla, 1997, p. xv). 

The artist, 'addressed himself to the formal aberrations of mismatched planes, jamming the horizontal perspective against top views inspired by site-mapping and aerial photography, and locking the muddy, impasto-built riverbank constructions into a Cubist geometrical analysis. Gradually, the architecture drained away from his canvasses: society itself passed from his concerns, until, during the late 1960’s, his paintings assumed the character of abstractionist hymns to nature.' (Ranjit Hoskote, Ram Kumar, Recent Works, Saffron & Pundole Art Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, May - July 2002, p. 6).