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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Shri A. Ramachandran’s ‘Subaltern Nayikas and Lotus Pond’ Paintings Have a New Approach

Shri A. Ramachandran’s ‘Subaltern Nayika and Lotus Pond’ paintings are based on the concept of the Ashta Nayikas or the eight Nayikas that are interpreted as eight moods of women, or the eight emotions of a human being

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Suman Bajpai
Suman Bajpai
Freelance writer, journalist, editor, translator and travel writer, Worked with different magazines as an editor. Writing for past 33 years

INDIA. Delhi:  An exhibition of eminent Indian artist Shri A. Ramachandran’s work was held recently in New Delhi. This exhibition was supported by the Vadehra Art Gallery. The exhibition presents over 260 works of the artist done between 1968 and 2019. The art pieces include mural-size paintings, sculptural installations and single-piece works, etchings, watercolours, drawings, and illustrated books.

Renowned artist Shri A. Ramachandran has an unprecedented approach toward art, which reflects in his paintings. 

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When the world was under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Ramachandran utilized this period by spending time in his studio. He started investing his time in art and made some large art pieces. Out of which 13 were put for public viewing at different venues, Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, and Vadhera art gallery in Defence Colony.

Unusual Theme

The Padma awardee artist created his latest body of work with vibrant colours and bold lines titled ‘Subaltern Nayika and Lotus Pond’. These paintings show what kept Ramachandran so meditatively engaged with the brush and colours in the last two years. 

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How did Ramachandran’s muse for the last three decades of Rajasthani tribal Bhil women suddenly become ‘subaltern’? Is this work brimming with reverence typical of the ancient Natya Shastra or are the eight females a pun on the Ashta Nayikas profiled in Bharata’s treatise on performing arts? 

Not only that, but the sprawling water bodies across the Udaipur belt have also for long been another obsession of Kerala-born Ramachandran. 

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Talking about his work he says, “The kind of experience I had during that period, can be termed as ‘recollection in tranquillity.’ Through intense exploration of colours and lines, it was like reshaping experiences.”

Eight Emotions of Human Being

With Subaltern Nayikas and Lotus Pond (2021), the laughter translates into a disarming entreaty to viewers and seekers to keep a light and easy touch when bringing visual arts in contact with academic studies. True to this sentiment, these eight women might appear typical of what they represent but they actually come loaded with meaning.

When the artist started his Subaltern Nayikas series based on the eight classical Nayikas, he had them in mind as his version of the classical Nayikas whom they supplant in his series. And the Bhil women played along with what he wished, quite content to remove the gossamer and sparkling gold clothing worn by the high-born women of the classical tradition and to replace them with their own identity.

The concept of the Ashta Nayikas or the eight Nayikas can be interpreted as eight moods of women, or at a more profound level, the eight emotions of a human being.

Colours Are Inter-Related

The colours used in these paintings are not just one flat colour, but several thinly applied layers of different colours that inter-relate with each other. Each layer changes the quality of the previous layer while allowing that previous application to show through as well. The result is that of volume, vibrancy and tactility.

Looking at the paintings one can easily realize that the artist is a keen observer of nature and the experimentation of all the paints that he uses. Be it a lighter shade like that of the earthen pot, or the brightness of the flowers and butterflies which bring radiance and cohesiveness to the stronger, deeper colours. Ramachandran’s palette is extensive and fearless liberated by experience and reflection. The Nayikas too, like his colour palette, are fearless and show liberation in order to become subversive subalterns.

Also Read: Abhishek Suryawanshi: ‘It is about Ideas, Language is Just a Medium’


  • Suman Bajpai

    Freelance writer, journalist, editor, translator and travel writer, Worked with different magazines as an editor. Writing for past 33 years

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