Rajasthani Bhils on Ramachandran's 'brush' repertoire

Kochi, Aug 22 : Acclaimed painter A. Ramachandran's love of Rajasthan's Bhil community continues with the same vigour even after more than four decades.

The artist's first exhibition in his native state is currently on here. It began Aug 11.

"The little Bhil villages gave me a second homecoming," noted Ramachandran who left Thiruvananthapuram for West Bengal in 1957.

"The marvellous, graceful and simple tribals accepted me as one of their own. It enabled me to observe and study them from close quarters," he confided.

Even at 78, the painter-sculptor makes frequent trips to villages such as Undri, Pai, Obeshwar, Eklingji and Baneshwar in Udaipur district, only to return with images that rejuvenate him mentally.

Ramachandran reveals that he put all his creative energy into understanding the life and environment of the Bhils.

"In the process, I found an island away from the turmoil of urban life," said the artist.

Art historian R. Siva Kumar notes that Ramachandran often paints himself as a self-effacing and yet omnipresent observer of Bhil life.

"He assumes the form of a bat sleeping on the tree, a fish in the lake, a flute-playing kinnara (a paradigmatic lover, a celestial musician, half-human and half-horse in Buddhist and Hindu mythologies), a beetle on the plant or a restful goat among the worshippers," notes the Santiniketan-based scholar and curator of the show.

The first time the artist interacted closely with a tribe was in the late 1950s when he was studying art at Santiniketan in West Bengal and began portraying the life of eastern India's Santhals.

For the art world broadly, he has gifted art aficionados with a series of paintings over the past two decades.

The most famous among them, arguably, has been the 'Lotus Pond' series, where he depicts all the little living beings of the sprawling water bodies. "Lotus is not just another flower," says Ramachandran.

The exhibition will end Aug 25. Thereafter, he is preparing to make another trip to Rajasthan.

--IANS (Posted on 22-08-2013)

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