When the Covid-19 pandemic confined people to their homes, artist A Ramachandran took the confinement in his stride and painted an entire collection of new works. His thirteen paintings are currently part of an ongoing exhibition.
The exhibition titled: ‘Subaltern Nayikas and Lotus Pond’ is where the works of Ramachandran painted during Covid-19 are currently on display at the Triveni Kala Sangam and the Vadehra Art Gallery.
“Starting from the lockdown, my routine changed. I began spending more time in my studio upstairs. I chose to almost cut myself off from the gloomy world around. The media brought only sad news, so I avoided newspapers and even TV,” says Ramchandran.
He adds: “At night, I'd call my children abroad -- my sole link with anything outside of home”.
The show brings back two of Ramachandran’s well-known subjects — the lotus pond and his beloved Bhil women, who have been his muse for several years now.
The latter are featured in these works as ‘Ashtanayikas’ or the eight heroines.
With their ‘ghungat’ covered faces and distinctive nose rings and jewellery, Ramachandra’s “ashtanayikas” are visibly “subaltern”, contrary to the traditional idea of the heroine in Bharat Muni’s “Natyashahtra”.
By making these women “subaltern”, he challenges the traditional notion that the “ashtnayikas” have to be of a certain stature.
“My ‘ashtanayikas’ are a pun on the eighth heroines and their emotions related to romance. But the muses continue to be the Bhil women, whom I know closely for over three decades now,” he says .
It is almost impossible to look at Ramachandran’s lotus ponds, painted on multi panelled canvases, in gorgeous shades of green pink, yellow, blue and more, and not think of Claude Monet’s water lilies, but there is also something distinctively familiar about these works.
The artist’s paintings of the flowers, the bees hovering over them, or the green moss that takes over the pond when it rains, draws the viewer in, into the vastness of his works.
“The Lotus Pond series did undergo subtle changes this time. They are as much about the ecology around the water bodies as the flowers themselves,” he says.
While the show at Shridharani Gallery of Triveni Kala Sangam will end on November 30, the one at VAG Gallery will be on till December 12.