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Writings

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Selected Writings by A. Ramachandran

Lotus pond at Obeshwar - A. Ramachandran

An inverted ‘U’ shaped valley, surrounded by hills; a vast sheet of water held by a pond, like an enormous bowl, filled with huge lotus plants and reeds, is Obeshwar- a remote Shiva temple near Udaipur. During the monsoon, the hills, trees and plants, washed clean - resplendent - the bright face of nature.

I sat near the lotus pond and watched the changing hues of colour on large leaves, the tall stalks holding flowers and buds, swaying in the breeze along with golden reeds, like a graceful tribal dance. After three days of observation, the changing moods of this magnificent lotus pond became a lotus pond of my mind, Manasarovar, providing a Gita Govinda setting, for God of little things to enact a playful activity - Leela of insects, butterflies and dragonflies, swinging between the conscious and the subconscious.

A Ramachandran
New Delhi, 1997

Art Today wrote to the painters:

“If posterity went to the studios of Indian painters and sculptors, what would it select? Ideally, the artist should have a say, even before the others do. For, it is always the artist as creator, through his persistent daring in the act of creation, who remains of constant interest. It is, therefore, very important that we first put all our faith in the artist.

“We at Art Today take pleasure in asking you to choose that one painting by which you think you would be best remembered. For different artists, the considerations of choice will vary. For some, it may be a painting they will not sell at any price, for others, it, could, regrettably, be a painting they had sold in innocence for a song and so it will have to be loaned from its owner. Some painters we are sure are actually just about to create such a work, and they will not mind putting it on the market. After all, the best art should remain on show!”

QUESTIONS TO ARTISTS
1. Even before you saw yourself as a painter, what was it that you had an urge to draw?
2. Of the different phases and subjects, which one remains in your memory as the most alluring? And can you say why?
3. Why is this chosen painting among your finest works? What did you enjoy painting the most in it?
4. What, in retrospect, do you think has remained your greatest shortcoming?

Ramachandran responded by writing:

A Ramachandran: Writer by Ella Dutta

From 1986, A Ramachandran's visual language turned towards a new direction. He had been undergoing a creative ferment for quite some time but it found mature expression since the mid-Eighties. His writings and statements also changed in tone. It becomes increasingly clear from his essays and interviews that he is swimming against the current. He had been stridently criticised for drawing on traditional language of murals as resource. In the published statements it appears that Ramachandran is not afraid to take on his critics in the art establishment.

The male gaze and the human image - A. Ramachandran

As an embodiment of the MCP (male chauvinist pig), I suffer from an occasional bout of a disease called the male gaze. This may be a hereditary one of Kerala origin coming down from Raja Ravi Varma to myself or one acquired under the tutelage of my teacher, Ram Kinkar. But I often wonder why from time immemorial, the artists throughout the world have chosen to depict the human form, specially the female one. An overall survey of the works of art in our own tradition also reveals the emphasis on the subtleties of the woman's body. From Mohenjodaro to M F Husain, the artists have continued the search of a perfect visual code to define the enigma called the female form.

Unlike animals and birds, the female species of Homo Sapiens are far more fascinating than their male counterparts. Although created from his own ribs, the image of the nude woman, Eve must have stunned Adam, thanks to the special lighting effect by God, the Creator, saying, “Let there be light.” That first impact of seeing the opposite spectrum must have awakened in man the eternal urge to catch the glorious splendour of the woman's body. In India, the Mother Goddess and her various manifestations preoccupied artists and writers through the centuries. Even the hymns addressed to the Mother Goddess meant for prayers contain explicit topographical description of her body emphasizing the exuberance of the erotic zones. As an artist, I am no exception to this trait and admit with modesty that I am a natural member of the multitude of admirers of the female figure. This statement may sound banal to some art lovers as a steep fall from Mother Teresa to Madhuri Dixit.

Sketchbook of Childhood - A. Ramachandran

The first milestone in the dawn of my memory is the clock. Its shape and sound rhymed with the first beat of my consciousness. This old clock was already there when I was born. When the first veil of mist dissolved in my mind, the dial of the clock appeared as a mystical Yantra, a diagram of unknown power. Its finger made victory signs every hour. The ticking of its shining pendulum was like the sound of the horse hoof in Durer's etching, Death Carrying the Coffin. In my childhood this ticking was indistinct and far. But today it sounds distinct and near. This clock must have watched me as a crawling infant. After many years, I brought it to Delhi as the only memento of my ancestral home. By this time it was totally old and worn out. It had also forgotten to mark the hours with its musical chimes. Someone in my family had crudely painted it black. I was pained to see the first object of attention in my life so much damaged. With loving care, I removed the dirty peel of color, sandpapered the moth-eaten frame and polished the clock with wax. Even though it regained some of its old majesty, it was not the same clock longer, more like a patient under dialysis. Now, I have to nurse the clock every day. Any negligence on my part, and the hands get entangled and stop ticking. Sometimes in delirium, it can even strike thirteen.

Back in my hometown, in the house where I was born, this clock shared the company of two other objects. There was a large oleograph print of Mahalakshmi with a heavy wooden frame. In the corner of this faithful representation of the oil painting, there was a flourishing signature that read 'Ravi Varma.'

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