A latest, major lotus pond painting by A. Ramachandran titled ‘Homage to the Setting Sun’ (2016, 192” x 78”) is now on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art .
The four-panel work shows the exposed lotus seed-cups and stems turned towards the setting sun as nightfall approaches. As the sun moves to the west over the course of the day, lotus flowers change their orientation with it, while steadily shedding their petals. By day’s end, only the bare lotus rhizomes are visible above their large leaves watching the fading sun. This painting has been especially placed in the classical Indian Art section of the museum, amidst a chosen selection of early Buddhist sculptures from Sanchi and Bharhut, consisting of lotus medallions and rhizomes, yakshis, yakshas and Nagas. The display highlights the deep influence of various Indian art traditions on Mr. Ramachandran’s oeuvre and the recurring theme of the lotus pond in it. Sonya Rhie Mace, George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art and Interim Curator of Islamic Art at the Museum, explains in her display note:
The artist has tapped into the deeply rooted and potent symbolism of the lotus in Indian art and thought. It references the purifying power of life-giving waters. In Hindu cosmology, the lotus pond recalls the primordial ocean in which creation takes place and continues to exist after the time of destruction. Though his materials are Western, Ramachandran's techniques are akin to the gradual layering process used for centuries by Indian miniature painters which lends his works a depth and luminous glow.
In the adjacent room within the Indian Art section, three Sumi-e (ink wash) paintings by the eminent Indian artist, Nandalal Bose and a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore are on exhibit. Ramachandran received his training in art at the Kala Bhavana. Located at Santiniketan in West Bengal, this innovative art school of the Visva Bharati University was founded by Nandalal Bose. Inspired by Tagore's unique philosophy of education, he sought to develop a contextually grounded Indian modernism rooted in the diverse Asian art traditions.
The painting will be on view for till November 2018. On February 7, 2018, Mr. Ramachandran will give a talk on his art at the museum.