Vadehra Art Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of Ram Kumar’s hitherto unseen pen and ink drawings. Curated by the Modernist Master’s close associate Prayag Shukla, the exhibition provides the crucial link between Ram Kumar’s figurative, landscape and abstraction phases. Most of the drawings included in the exhibition were executed by the artist between 1961 and 1963 – right after he went to Banaras with his friend MF Husain.
Banaras as a city stands on multiple heights and it was this sight that gave Ram Kumar a new and unusual perspective. It is also a strange city where one celebrates and mourns at the same time. The two artists – Ram Kumar and MF Husain – went to the ancient city together but brought back home different directions to their visual vocabulary.
The exhibition at Vadehra Art Gallery includes the early set of drawings Ram Kumar had made inspired by Banaras. They belong to the artist’s personal ledger, which he used to draw in instead of a sketchbook as ledgers were cheaper. The 60 never-before-seen pen and ink drawings give us an insight into the artist’s masterful use of the line in creating uncanny forms. They are starkly different from the painted landscapes that were to come later. While the painted landscapes invite contemplation, the drawings require concentration – they both hide and reveal objects, animals, places and ideas.
The exhibition also includes 17 black and white acrylic works by Ram Kumar.
About the artist: Born in 1924 in Shimla, Ram Kumar did his Masters in Economics. It was his meeting with J Swaminathan in 1948 that led him to turn to painting. Along with his then contemporaries SH Raza, MF Husain etc, Ram Kumar became an important figure for the development of Modern Indian art. He has received several awards for his contribution to Indian art including the Padma Shri (1972) and Padma Bhushan (2010). His 1952 painting ‘Vagabond’ fetched 1.1 million dollars in Christie’s New York in 2008.
Ram Kumar lives and works in New Delhi.