Ram Kumar (artist)
1924 (age 91–92)
Shimla, Punjab, British India
|Education||Sharada Ukil School of Art, New Delhi (1945)|
Ram Kumar (Hindi: राम कुमार; born in Shimla 1924) is an Indian artist and writer who has been described as one of India's foremost abstract painters. He was associated with the Progressive artist's group along with greats like M.F. Hussain, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza. He is said to be one of the first Indian artists to give up figurativism for abstract art. His art commands high prices in the domestic and international market. His work "The Vagabond" fetched $1.1 million at Christie's, New york, setting another world record for the artist. He is also one of the few Indian Modernist masters accomplished in writing as well as painting.
Early Life and education
Ram Kumar Verma was born in Shimla, the capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in a large middle-class family of eight brothers and sisters. His father was a government employee from Patiala in Punjab, India who worked in the Civil and Administrative Division in the British Government. While pursuing M.A. in Econonomics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi, he chanced upon an art exhibition in 1945. One evening, after "loitering" around Connaught Place with his friends from St Stephen's College, he landed up at an art exhibition.
"I saw paintings like that for the first time and it made me so intrigued that I returned several times".
Ram Kumar took classes at the Sharda Ukil School of Art under Sailoz Mukherjee and gave up employment at a bank in 1948 to pursue art. Sailoz Mukherjee was a painter from Shantiniketan School who introduced him to still life painting with live models. While a student there, he met Raza at an exhibition. Raza and Ram became good friends. He convinced his father to pay for a one-way ticket to Paris and studied further there under Andre Lhote and Fernand Léger. In Paris, the pacificist peace movement attracted him and he joined the French Communist Party. Seeking inspiration in the Social Realists such as Kathe and Fourgenon. He was befriended by S.H. Raza and MF Hussain who are two major artists.
Ram Kumar has participated in various exhibitions in and out of India, including the 1958 Venice Biennale and the Festival of India shows in the then USSR and Japan in 1987 and 1988. One of Ram Kumar's latest solo exhibition was in 2008 in Delhi. Ram Kumar also writes in Hindi and eight collections of his works have been published, as well as two novels and a travelogue.
The human condition is the main concern of the painter manifested in his early works by the alienated individual within the city. Later the city, specifically Varanasi with its dilapidated, crammed houses, conveys a sense of hopelessness. Increasingly abstract works done in sweeping strokes of paint evoke both exultation of natural spaces and more recently an incipient violence within human habitation.
As the interest in Indian art has grown, paintings by Ram Kumar are getting increasing recognition in the art market.
Awards and honours
- John D. Rockefeller III Fellowship, New York, 1970
- Padmashree, Government of India, 1972
- Premchand Puraskar, Government of Uttar Pradesh, 1972
- Kalidas Samman, Government of Madhya Pradesh, 1986
- Officers Arts et Letters, Government of France, 2003
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Government of Delhi, 2010
- Padma Bhushan, Government of India, 2010
- Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi, 2011
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- Jachec, Nancy (2008). Politics and painting at the Venice Biennale, 1948–64: Italy and the idea of Europe. Manchester University Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-7190-6896-6.
- Vishwambara, K. S. (1998). Movement in Indian art, a tribute. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. p. 91. OCLC 62857926.
- "A colourful friendship". Indian Express. 18 January 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
- Kumar, Ram (2004). The face & other stories. Vadehra Art Gallery. p. 16. ISBN 978-81-87737-06-3.
- Lal, Sham (2003). Indian realities in bits and pieces. Rupa & Co. p. 513. ISBN 978-81-291-0247-8.
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- Kumar "Artist Bio" Check
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