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Ram Kumar: The Pioneer of Indian Abstract Art

Ram Kumar: The Pioneer of Indian Abstract Art


Many abstract painters like Ram Kumar have opined, “With creative use of the visual language of art, colour, and form, nothing portrays “independence” like abstract art”.

The movement which took the world by storm, Abstract Art, is no stranger to India. Thanks to the works of the forerunners of the field, such as Ram Kumar, abstract art is today one of the most appreciated art. Want to know more about the life of Ram Kumar, the man who made abstract art what it is in India? Then read on below.

1. Born on 23 September 1924 in Shimla during British Rule, Ram Kumar was one of India’s foremost abstract painters.

Ram Kumar

2. Originally a figurative painter, he gave up on the style and shifted to abstract art. Figurative art involves describing real-life objects clearly in art. The two art styles are polar opposites of each other.

3. Son of a government employee from Patiala, Punjab, Ram Kumar was a student of St Stephen’s College, Delhi. He studied Economics there.

4. Born in a large middle-class family consisting of his parents and his eight siblings, Ram Kumar gave up his job at a bank in 1948 to study art. An art exhibition he saw in 1945 at Connaught Place, Delhi inspired him to pursue art, said Ram Kumar once.

Ram Kumar

via firstpost

5. He enrolled himself in Sharda Ukil School of Art, Delhi. He was a student of Sailoz Mukherjee, an early Indian modernist who expressed the simplicity of life through his art.

6. Ram Kumar was associated with the Progressive Arts Group, and great Indian artists like MF Hussain and Raza were his contemporaries.

7. He met Raza while he was a student at the SUSA, and the two soon became close friends. They were also a part of the French Communist Party.

8. Ram Kumar’s art pieces fetched large amounts of money. His critically-acclaimed work “The Vagabond” fetched $1.1 million at Christie’s, a British auction house. This was a world-record price.

9. He received many national honours in his lifetime. He won the Padma Shri award in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan Award (the third-highest civilian honour) in 2010.

A pioneer of the Indian abstract movement, Ram Kumar wished to express freedom and fluidity through his art. He was born during British Rule, during the time of colonisation. He witnessed firsthand the kind of damage that the lack of freedom does to people. His art was a protest against confinement, which was apparent by his abandonment of “Figurativism”. This legendary artist breathed his last on 14 April 2018.

Blog Edited By Ritika Gupta

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