I don’t need to sell paintings anymore,” says Ram Kumar without a shred of insincerity. His life may explain why. The 86-year-young artist is having his fifth ‘semi-retrospective’, the first of which happened at Calcutta’s Birla Academy in 1980.
MF Husain, one of his closest friends, is in exile. His only son is settled in Australia. Not surprisingly, the abstractionist says, “Memories play an important role in my life and work.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything new to show. Ram Kumar: Selected Works, 1950-2010 has 70-odd of his paintings, half of them done in the last two years. “I’m in my studio six hours a day, seven days a week,” says the artist who received a Padma Bhushan this year.
What drives him? It’s answered in his quote that begins the current show’s catalogue: “When one is young… one’s work is dominated by content, by ideas — but as one grows older, one turns to the language of painting itself. I have grown detached — I want to find the same peace that the mystic found.”
A look at his works may convince you that he’s already there.
The show is on at Lalit Kala till December 20, then at Vadehra Gallery in Defence Colony from December 23 to January 10. For details, call 24622545.