On February 10, 2024, the art world lost one of its most distinctive voices when Ramachandran passed away in Delhi at the age of 88.
Early Influences and A Journey to Santiniketan
Born in Attingal, Kerala, A Ramachandran’s journey into the world of art was serendipitous, sparked by his encounter with Ramkinkar Baij’s iconic sculpture, Santhal Family. This led him to Santiniketan on a scholarship, where he was immersed in the teachings of stalwarts like Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij. Here, Ramachandran was not only introduced to the philosophies of Rabindranath Tagore but also to a form of artistic expression that valued freedom and creativity above all.
Artistic Evolution: From Pain to Celebration
Ramachandran’s early works were marked by a distinct awareness of the socio-political turmoil of his times, reflecting the pain and misery he witnessed upon his arrival in post-Partition Kolkata. His pieces from this period, such as Kali Puja and End of Yadavas, depicted a dark world fraught with violence and despair. However, the tumultuous events of the 1980s in Delhi, particularly the communal riots, led him to a pivotal transformation. Ramachandran began to eschew images of cataclysm in favor of those that celebrated life and nature, deeply influenced by the verdant landscapes and temple art of Kerala and the humanistic ideals of Santiniketan.
A Pedagogue and Illustrator: Shaping Minds and Visions
After moving to Delhi in the ’60s, Ramachandran joined Jamia Milia Islamia and was instrumental in the establishment of the Faculty of Fine Arts alongside artist Paramjit Singh. His commitment to education was paralleled by his passion for children’s literature, which he explored with his wife, Chameli. Together, they created books that not only entertained but also educated, drawing on traditional art forms and their rich cultural experiences. Ramachandran believed in the power of storytelling and nature to shape young minds, lamenting the disconnect modern children have from these elemental experiences.
Legacy of A Ramachandran: A Celebration of Indian Heritage
Ramachandran’s artistic oeuvre is a testament to his belief in the intrinsic value of Indian art traditions and the rich tapestry of its cultural narratives. His work stands as a bridge between the past and the present, embodying a fusion of traditional aesthetics with contemporary sensibilities. Through his paintings, murals, and illustrations, Ramachandran offered a glimpse into a world where myth and reality intertwine, where nature and humanity coexist in harmony.