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"Every Child is an Artist. The Problem is How to Remain an Artist once we Grow up"-Pablo Picasso.


Ram Kumar

1924 Shimla, Himachal Pradesh


April 14, 2018 New Delhi


1949-52 Studied painting with Andre Lhote and Fernand Leger, Paris
1946 Master's Degree in Economics from St. Stephens College, University of Delhi, New Delhi
1945 Sharada Ukil School of Art, New Delhi


2016 Ram Kumar Traversing the Landscapes of the Mind, Saffronart, New Delhi
2014 Ramkumar drawings from the 1960s, Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata, New Delhi
2013 Ram Kumar and the Bombay Progressives Form and Figure Part I, Aicon Gallery, New York
2012 Drawings, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2011 Ram Kumar A Retrospective, Aicon Gallery, London
2011 Chawla Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010-11 Selected works 1949-2010, presented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 Ram Kumar A Retrospective, Aicon Gallery, New York
2009 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2008 Tribute to Kekoo Gandhy, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai
2008 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2007 Reflective Landscapes, Aicon Gallery, New York
2006 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2005 Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
2005 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2003 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2002 Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, New Delhi, San Francisco, New York
2001 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2000 Landscapes of New Zealand, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1999 Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1998 A gallery, New York
1997 Arks Gallery, London
1997 Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad
1996 Pages from a sketchbook, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1996 Ram Kumar An Inner Journey, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1993 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1992 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1992 Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1991 Chitrakoot Gallery, Calcutta
1990 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1990 Center for Contemporary Art, New Delhi
1988 Works on paper, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
1986 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1984 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1983 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1983 Sarla Art Centre, Chennai
1983 Works on paper, Miskole, Hungary
1981 Works on paper, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1980 Artistic Heritage, New Delhi
1979 Chanakya Gallery, New Delhi
1978 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1977 Chanakya Gallery, New Delhi
1976 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1974 Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
1973 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1971 Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay
1968 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
1966 Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
1966 Grosvenor Gallery, London
1965 Kunika Art Center, New Delhi
1964 Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
1963 Kunika Art Center, New Delhi
1960 Wax and ink on paper after his first visit to Banaras, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
1959 Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
1958 Warsaw and Krakow
1957 Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
1953 Alliance Francaise, Mumbai
1949 YMCA Hall, Shimla


2014 Immutable Gaze Part I Masterpieces of Modern and Pre-Modern Indian Art, Aicon Gallery, New York
2013 Pioneers of Modernism, Sovereign FZE, Dubai
2013 Ideas of the Sublime, presented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
2013 Nothing is Absolute A Journey Through Abstraction, Jehangir Nicholson Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai
2013 The Discerning Eye Modern Masters, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2012 Iconic Processions, Aicon Gallery, New York
Gallery Collection 2012, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2012 Aqua, Beyond Gallery, Mumbai
2012 Contemporary A selection of modern and contemporary art, presented by Sakshi Gallery at The Park, Chennai
2012 Through the Ages, South Asian Sculpture and Painting from Antiquity to Modernism, Aicon Gallery, New York
Sightings from 2012, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2011-12 Reprise 2011, Aicon Gallery, New York
2011 Modern Masters, Aicon Gallery, New York
2011 POP Progressives on Paper, Aicon Gallery, New York
2011 Anecdotes, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2011 Master Class, Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 Paper Trails, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 The Progressives & Associates, Grosvenor Gallery, London
2010 From miniature to modern traditions in transition, Rob Dean Art, London in association with Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
2010 Master Class, The Arts Trust, Mumbai
2009 Indian Art after Independence Selected works from the collections of Virginia and Ravi Akhoury and Shelley and Donald Rubin, Emily Lowe Gallery, Hempstead
2009 Progressive to Altermodern 62 Years of Indian Modern Art, Grosvenor Gallery, London
2009 Charting Time, Bodhi Art, Mumbai
2009 Moderns and more, Aicon Gallery, Palo Alto
2008 Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2008 Post-Independence Masters, Aicon Gallery, New York
2008 Freedom 2008 - Sixty Years of Indian Independence, Center for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata
2006 Shadow Lines, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2006 Moderns Revisited, Grosvenor Vadehra, London
2005 Ashta Nayak Eight Pioneers of Indian Art, Aicon Gallery, New York
2004 Concept and Form, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
2001 Ashta Nayak, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
2001 Modern Indian Art, organized by Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, Metropolitan Pavilion, New York
1997 Image-Beyond Image, traveling exhibition of works from the Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan, in New Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and Mumbai.
1996 The Moderns, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai
1991 Remembering Kali Pundole, joint exhibition with M. F. Husain, V. S. Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee and Krishen Khanna, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1988 Three Indian artists, Karachi, Pakistan
1971 Ten Indian Artists, traveling exhibition in the USA
1958 Eight Indian Artists, Graham Gallery, New York
1958 Seven Indian Painters in Europe, Gallery One, London
1958 Graphic exhibition with M. F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta and V. S. Gaitonde, Mumbai
1952 Delhi Shilpi Chakra, New Delhi


1994 National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Jehangir Art Gallery (Roading Exhibition), organized by Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1993 From 1949 to 1993 at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, organized by Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
1986 From 1953 to 1986 at Art Heritage, New Delhi, organized by Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
1986 Museum of Contemporary Art, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
1985 Artistic Heritage, New Delhi
1980 From 1953 to 1980, Birla Museum, Calcutta


2012 Eternal Landscapes, with Paresh Maity presented by ICIA at The Arts Trust, Mumbai
1995 With Jogen Chowdhury, Raku Gallery, Japan
1967 With MF Husain, Geeta Gallery, New Delhi
1967 With M. F. Husain, Prague


2015 Selections of Abby Gray and Indian Modernism from the New York University Art Collection, Gray Art Gallery, New York University, New York
2014 Ode to Monumental Celebration, Visuality, and Ideology, presented by Saffronart at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
2012-13 Radical Modernist Art from India, Rubin Museum of Art, New York
2012 Art for Humanity, Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
2012 Indian Modernist Art Approaching Abstraction, Rubin Museum of Art, New York
2012 Crossings Time Unfolded, Part 2, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi
2011 Ethos V Indian Art through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore
2011 Manifestations VI, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2011 Roots in the Air, Branches Below Modern and Contemporary Art from India, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose
2011 Time Unfolded, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi
2011 Celebrations 2011, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
2010 Manifestations IV, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 Art Celebrates 2010 Sports and the City, represented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, coinciding with the celebration of the Commonwealth Games
2010 Evolve 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
Annual Exhibition 2010, Chawla Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 Celebration 2010, Annual Exhibition, Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi
2008-09 Peace Mandala, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
2008-09 Expanding Horizons Contemporary Indian Art, traveling exhibition presented by Bodhi Art at Ravinder Natya Mandir, P.L.Despande Kala Academy Art Gallery, Mumbai, Sant Dyaneshwar Natya Sankul Art Gallery, Amravati, Platinum Jubilee Hall, Nagpur, Tapadia Natya Mandir Sports Hall, Aurangabad, Hirachand Nemchand Vachanalays, Solapur, Acharya Vidyanand Sanskrutik Bhavan, Kolhapur, PGSR Sabhagriha, SNDT, Pune, Sarvajanik Vachanalaya Hall, Nasik
2008 Moderns, Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan organized by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in collaboration with Embassy of India, Amman, Jordan
1987 Heartbeats, Geneva
1985 Artistes Indien en France, Nationale des Arts Plastiques, Paris, Festival of India in France
1982 The Gesture and Motif, UK India Festival, Royal Academy of Arts, London
1980 Contemporary Asian Artists, Fukuoka Museum of Art, Japan
1979 Sao Paulo Biennial
1973 Contemporary Indian Art, traveling exhibition USA
1959 Sao Paulo Biennial
1959 Tokyo Biennale, Japan
1958 Venice Biennale, Italy
1957 Tokyo Biennale, Japan


2010 Padma Bhushan of the Government of India
2003 Arts and Letters Officers, French Government
1986 Kalidas Samman, Madhya Pradesh state government
1972 Premchand Puraskar, State Government of Uttar Pradesh for Meri Priya Kahaniyan, a collection of short stories in Hindi
1972 Padmashree, Government of India
1970 JD Rockefeller III Scholarship, New York
1959 Honorable Mention, Sao Paulo Biennial
1958 National Award, New Delhi
1956 National Award, New Delhi



Born in 1924 in Simla, Ram Kumar was one of India's leading modernists. He studied Economics at St. Stephens College, New Delhi, in 1946. After this, he went to Paris to study painting with Andre Lhote and Fernand Leger from 1949 to 1952.


Ram Kumar, like many of his colleagues in the first generation of postcolonial Indian artists - among them figures such as F N Souza, M F Husain, Paritosh Sen, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, S H Raza, and Akbar Padamsee - combined an internationalist desire with the need to belong to their homeland emphatically. In its internationalist mood, this generation sought inspiration from the modernisms of the early 20th century in Paris, London, and Vienna; his need to belong sparked an interest in constructing a viable Indian aesthetic that had a dynamic relationship with an Indian identity. For Ram Kumar, this search for an indigenist tenor has not meant a superficial inventory of native motifs offered as evidence of a static and essentialist Indian identity. Instead, as I have already suggested, he demonstrates that a painter can represent the most intimate dramas of his culture while maintaining the individuality, and even the idiosyncrasy, of his interpretation.


Ram Kumar's art, which has developed through an alternation of joyful expressiveness and unsettling reticence, plays a crucial polarity of emphasis in the context of Indian culture between samsara, sensual participation in the world of events, and nirvana, the ascetic breath. by desire. Having renounced the active engagement with the state and civil society that had previously characterized his position, the artist has gradually turned inward, choosing to be an inner exile of the spirit. This retreat gives him the space to reflect on the great natural forces that have captivated him since his childhood, and to evaluate their symbolic importance in his functioning; He feels the deepest intrigue of time as Kala, the destroyer of worlds. Attentive to the ceremonies of decay, alert to the processes of transformation, he finds himself at that threshold where the anguish of the private self is sublimated in the universal rhythm of creation and destruction.


If Ram Kumar's art has been a journey from the city to the landscape, from the social obligations of the grihastha to the peripatetic freedom of the sannyasin, it has also been an art of looking back, an art of reminiscence. By moving away from places he has known intimately, the artist takes with him spasms of agitation that he will remember in tranquility so that the images that time has destroyed are recovered and the words lost in the wind can be strung together again. , in songs. Do we see evidence, in Ram Kumar's most recent work, of a reconciliation between householder and renunciate, city and landscape? In the paintings he has executed since the late 1990s, the architecture of the tomb has been replaced by the architecture of the temple. The town was built next to the river. This is surely an idealized Varanasi as tirtha, the ford that signifies a place of pilgrimage in Indian culture, the point where settlement meets openness, and the pilgrim self makes the crossing from locality to cosmos, from earthly to the transcendent, from time to eternity.


Ram Kumar's recent paintings also attest to another type of reconciliation, since the aesthetic experience belongs, eventually, to the realm of samsara rather than that of nirvana, it cannot be defined only by the severity of the structure, the impulse towards the voluptuous is insinuated. even to the most severe asceticism. Motivated by one pole of his sensibility, Ram Kumar has often acted as an inquisitor of structures (the phrase is Wallace Stevens), translating the Earth into the language of the topographic map, so that a topographic code of contours and points reference constricts the depths. landscape saturations. But he has also been tempted to swing toward the other, romantic pole of his sensibility, passionately and unabashedly delighting in the physicality of sight, its capacity for moodiness and unstable beauty; He has celebrated the blush of the magnolias in bloom, the pregnant slopes carried by the clouds.


The dialogue between these opposite poles has enriched and replenished Ram Kumar's work: his strict geometry and his contemplation of mortality now give priority to the celebration of sensuality, the consolation of the beautiful. The real theme of Ram Kumar's art, perhaps, is the landscape as Beloved. Responding to the palpable eroticism of the rubbing and blurring, the stippling and splattering of textures across these painted surfaces, we share in his manifest ecstasy, his sense of stepping outside of himself to achieve communion with the Beloved.


Excerpts from Parts of a World Reflections on the Art of Ram Kumar by Ranjit Hoskote, 2002


The artist died on April 14, 2018.


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