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Tattooed with Mythology

Bold human and animal forms inscribed with a continuous, even calligraphy and Par paintings in intrepid tones form the essence of... more...
Indian Express, 3 March 1999

Netherlands-India Association

Golden jubilee celebration of Netherlands-India Association started with art exhibition of the works by Rameshwar ... more...
, 3 March 2001

Artist Profile
Rameshwar Singh (1948-2014)
Rameshwar Singh (1948-2014)
Rameshwar Singh was born in Rajasthan, and received his M.A. in drawing and painting from Udaipur University in 1982. He has a fascination for antiquity. The subject matter may be old-fashioned, but the treatment is novel. His work is very much keeping in tune with times. Through his paintings, he pays tribute to our cultural tradition that, he believes, can never be outdated. Blending he past with the present and striking a right balance in the process has helped him in establishing his identity.

About his work, fellow painter F. N. Souza has commented "His paintings are very compact; there''s a lot in them: figures, forms, and mythological content. Very colourful too.

The forms are carefully constructed; there''s craftsmanship in his work, and skill. Sort of magic mantras and omens appear mysteriously in Rameshwar''s paintings.

His main source of inspiration is ancient scriptures, architecture and obviously his own state, Rajasthan, which is rich with art traditions. Old calligraphy, scripts and architecture also seize his mind. These frequently appear in his work. Artifacts like vessels, music instruments, games, toys and prints that speak so much of our rich tradition have a pulsating effect on him.

He paints for deriving aesthetic pleasure. His work is neither a statement on anything nor it means to fight any notions or traditions. There are bodies halved into the shapes of human and animal. Strange objects fly around. An antique Roman clock invariably features somewhere. Everything seems like having been caught in a time warp. A true communication or communion is on between one colour and another, between object and subject and things and thoughts.

Critic Umesh Verma has written, "Singh is a virile painter from Rajasthan. Calligraphic textures and through inner alchemic processing he creates highly decorative folkishly sweet objects and paintings. His process is more or less scientific and has obvious overtones of Rajasthan. Sweetness and mirage are the reason for the essence of his visuals. He invokes poetic-Lingo."

His canvasses are textured and layered over and over. Perhaps he hates leaving any empty space on canvass and embellishes and decorates every object. He profusely uses different scriptures like Arabic, Persian, Urdu and even English. The couplets used don''t make any statement. They on their own don''t represent anything, but he does not use the symbols for the heck of it. To decipher them, they need to be viewed in totality, keeping in mind the objects painted. Otherwise, they are there for purely decorative purpose. A line with a shadow, cutting across the canvass, gives a sense of perspective to the painting. The concept is similar to one employed in old scrolled miniatures. Lines make a viewer stop and ponder; line-break the monotony and depth. Medium is not a barrier to him.

In the paintings with a mythological theme, he depicts different forms of Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Goddess Durga and the Sun God. Art critic Keshav Malik, who has reviewed his work from early days, writes, "Singh''s apparitions from the cultural past cause nostalgia in viewers. This same dreamscape brims with the personae of charming figments, of birds, fish, beast and humans, of objects from both past and present. Here there are motifs from the foregoing Rajasthani painting as well as images of mundane objects of the day. All these have blended thoroughly." Malik adds, "No feel of over-crowding or of congestion. The ecology of his compositions, in other words, is just right; it suggests the interdependence of each on all, and of live and let live. This at least was the earlier Indian cultural methodology." 

In an interview, he told that he does not always go by set patterns. Some of his paintings extend to or beyond the frame. He started with abstract before slowly switching to figurative. May be, he has now come a full circle as he again feels like doing abstract. While concerning about declining art traditions, he feels that puppetry, folk dances, scroll painting, tattoo, etc belong to the rich art tradition. If no attention is provided to their revival, these will simply vanish.

National L.K.A. Exhibition 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, New Delhi.
AIFACS 1983 to 1995 New Delhi.
Rajasthan State L.K.A. Exhibition 1982 to 1997 Jaipur.
Bharat Bhawan International Biennial of Print, 1987, 1991 Bhopal.
Diamond Jubilee AIFACS, New Delhi.
Centenary Year Bombay Art Society, Mumbai.
Rajasthan Lalit Kala Academy, Jaipur.
Silver Jubilee, Lalit Kala Akademy, Bhuvaneshwar.
Apana Utsav, 1986 New Delhi.
CITY ART UTSAV, celebrated by City Bank, India, 90 Years, 1992, Mumbai.
International Art Show “Tokyo” 1983 Japan.
International Art Exhibition organized by WLRA World Congress & UNESCO 1993,Jaipur.
Kala Mela organized by R.L.K.A. 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998,Jaipur.
India Heritage Centre, Washington 2000.
11th Asian Art Biennial Dhaka (Bangladesh),2004.
Golden Jubilee Celebration of Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi 2004.

Camps organized by Rajasthan Lalit Kala Akademy, Aaj Group, Tulika Kalakar Parishad, South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur, North Central Zone Cultural Centre, Allahabad, International Workshop by Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi on the occasion of 10th Triennale-India at Chennai, 2001, AIFACS 2002 at New Delhi, Mayo College Ajmer 2003, Sanskrit Academy, Jaipur in 2004, Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur in 2005, Urusvati & ONGC, Mumbai in 2005, National Artists'' Camp by Lalit Kala Akademy & South Culture Center, Thanjavar, Ooty in 2006 and The Grand Laxmi Vilas Palace art camp, Udaipur in 2006.

One Man Shows
AIFACS, New Delhi, 1982
Information Centre, Udaipur, 1983
Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad, 1983
Art Gallery, School of Arts, Jaipur, 1984
Art Gallery, Faculty and Fine Art, Baroda, 1984
Shridharani Art Gallery, New Delhi 1984, 1991, 2000,2003, 2005
Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai,1985,1994, 1998, 2000, 2006
Dhoomimal Art Centre, New Delhi 1986
Chitrakoot Art Gallery, Calcutta, 1987, 1989, 1994, 2003
Bajaj Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1986, 1990
Chetana Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1987
Taj Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1987, 1991, 1994, 2002
Gallery Aurobido, New Delhi 1989, 1991, 1994
Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur 1993, 1998, 2001, 2006
Welcome Gallery, Rajputana Palace Sheraton, Jaipur 1995, 2002, 2004
Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004
Srishti Art Gallery, Lucknow, 1996
Ravi Shankar Raval Bhawan, Ahmedabad ,1996
Durga`s Art Gallery, Mumbai,1996
Nehru Centre, Mumbai, 1997
Son-et-Lumiere, Mumbai, 1999, 2003
Westminster Art Gallery, Bangalore, 1999
Jamaat, Mumbai, 2000
ABC Gallery, Varanasi, 2001
Gallery Jan Steen, Amsterdam, Holland, 2001
Department of Fine Arts, Chandigarh ,2002
Daffodils Art Gallery, The Grand Hyatt, New Delhi ,2003
Ta BLU Café Gallery Bar, Clarks Amer, Jaipur, 2004
Crimson-the art resources, Bangalore, 2005

Awards and Honours
National Award, Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi, 1984
Rajasthan Lalit Kala Akademy, Jaipur 1995
Bombay Art Society 1985, 1987
U.P. State Lalit Kala Akademy Lucknow, 1984
The Indian Akademy of Fine Art, Amritsar, 1983, 1987, 1990
Hyderabad Art Society, Hyderabad, 1984
Ankan kala parishad,Bhilwara,2004
Tulika Kalakar Parishad, Udaipur, 1977, 1980
A.P. Council of Artists, Hyderabad, 1984
Mahakaushal Kala Parishad, Raipur, 1984, 1990
Oriental Art Society, Calcutta, 1985
Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad, Bangalore, 1985
Creators, Ambala Cantt., 1985, 1990
Bharatha Kala Parishad, Hyderabad, 1988
South Central Zone Culture Centre, Nagpur, 1990
Banaras Artists Association, Banaras, 1992
1st Indian Drawing Biennial, The Solids Chandigarh, 1992
Research Scholarship, National Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi, 1986
All India Art Biennial of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1997
All Indian Art Biennial of Rajasthan, Jaipur 2000
Nagridas kala sansthan, Kishangarh, Ajmer,2000
Honour by His Excellency The Governor of Tamil Nadu, 2006

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi, Sahitya Kala Parishad, New Delhi, College of Art, New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, Great Eastern Shipping Corporation, Mumbai, Modern Art Gallery, Jaipur, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, Pesticides (India) Limited, Udaipur, West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur, Chandigarh Museum, Chandigarh, Air India, Mumbai, South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur, South Central Zone Cultural Center, Nagpur, Galenbara Art Museum, Japan.

The World Trade Centre, Mumbai, Essar House, Mumbai, Dyanora Company, Mumbai, Dabur (India) Limited, New Delhi, Camlin Limited, Mumbai, Somani Fabrics, Jaipur, Mangalam Arts, Jaipur, Paras Kuhad & Associates, Jaipur, Mumbai, Surana Clinic, Jaipur, Anokhi, Jaipur, Gati Cargo, Sikanderabad, TCI Infrastructure Finance Ltd., Jaipur.

Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, Ram Bagh Palace Hotel, Jaipur, Taj Mahal Hotel, Lucknow, The Cottage, Jaipur, Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur, Hotel Trident, Jaipur, Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur, The Golecha, Ahmedabad.

Many other Government Buildings and private collections in India and abroad.

Country visited

Netherlands, England, France. Country visited

Commission work

48 paintings on Jain Muni Mantunga Acharya''s BHAKTAMAR STOTRA, the classical Sanskrit poetry and characteristic prayer to the God Adinath.

By: Keshav Malik

If you have seen the work of an artist over years, as I have Rameshwar Singh’s, for perhaps thirty years or so, it is still hard to decide whether an artist’s every new work is better than the one done in the past. So no one can say that every development in the world of art anywhere marks a higher stage than before, you certainly note the change in it. Thanks to the passage of time, but the establishment of value that these changes bring about in individual works is arguable. So one just cannot be dogmatic.

Looking at Rameshwar Singh’s latest offering, you recognize the man right away, but there are changes of detail, of shading, or color, and even of forms from work to work. The painter’s moves is not merely static. Yet the question whether this work has an edge over his previous work remains. Let it be so, indeed let each viewer determine things for himself. This is no bad thing. After all art works do not fall under the laws enunciated in the Ten Commandments!

So the adventure of looking is obviously very much a matter of ideas but such freedom from the exactness of the sciences may not be very good for establishing art value or its cost. Suspense is tremendously fruitful in experiencing life and living artists and the lovers of art are intensely individual people, who even when not agreeing among themselves, are yet being themselves. They add zest and openness to the culture of the community.

I say the above as a preamble so that the works of an artist, in this case Rameshwar Singh, is observed with non-blasé eyes. Fixed ideas don’t do anywhere and far less so in the arts. Rameshwar Singh himself, while carrying the make-up of the heroic legend-laden state of Rajasthan in his mental world and being faithful to it, is still an artist and not a tourist or propagandist for his state. So that his work frequently triumphs as art. The open spaces of art are unlimited.

Thus we, the viewers, better beware of reducing art to pictorial description. The best of this artist’s genre is not descriptive, it certainly uses cameos of memories from the past, but the purpose is quite otherwise. To delight us by taking us beyond nostalgia, to make us reflect on the tenuousness of the past against the vaster, uncharted tract of time.

What one can say is that Rameshwar Singh is a bit of a phenomenon. Not only is he consummate and fastidious in the way he tackles a mélange of conflicting tones and colors but as also possessed of an assurance which he attained already in his earlier years. His devotion to his idiom has perhaps resulted in this particular self-composure. Also, it is as a draughtsman that he also does well, though this may be not transparent to any who come to his art newly.

The richness and variety of the effects that he can obtain are notable. In some of his work, on paper or any other surface, is as if seared with blots and smudges as though by corrosive acid or flame; in others he employs almost a calligraphy as sensitive and delicate as regular calligraphist do. One is sometime afraid the line will spring up from the paper – it has the nervous tension of a human hair! Though one may perhaps discern something childlike in the artist’s Rajasthani fantasies which pervade his paintings of almost collage like scenes, still there is nothing immature either in his formal conception or the execution. In fact the secret of his art may reside precisely in the unnaturally early maturity of his unique style which even though it has some of the distortions and the hyper-sensitiveness of a forced growth of course, as always with precocious artists, outside influences are still strong, though most seem  to have been well assimilated. I might as well mention the obvious fact that Rameshwar studies mainly, if not exclusively, in Rajasthan, so that local influences worked on him not a little. But the resemblance with Rajasthani miniatures, for instance, is really by now quite superficial. This also goes for any other art styles, eastern or western. His personal instincts are strong enough to keep him from being overly swayed by alien influences.

Therefore Rameshwar Singh remains tender in temperament and not brutal or brash as so many artists of the younger generation have tended to become. It is for this his line has a spidery elegance and an attenuated grace. The impressionist or expressionist influences, if at all seen, have been slight. His burnt out paper rolls, as of yore, may of course have been tried out by some others elsewhere. Yet whatever confusing medley of influences he has had, have by now created a style both fetching in itself, and one which is perfectly adapted to interpret the Rajasthani subject matter, and this he has made peculiarly his own.

But quite apart from the refinements of his evolved enough style – its curious combination of naiveté and preciosity – Rameshwar could be deemed notable as the only Rajasthani painter to derive authentic inspiration from the overall  Rajasthan scene, that is, as observed in his especial manner.

In comparison with a number of the day’s painters, he is not bearing on the desolation Indian cities, so that his work is still evocative of romance and Eros. He has a sense of direction, that of life for the living, and not of mere misery, which of course is also very real. In sum, if his work is not the portrayal of the ostensibly brutal world of modern Indian cities, it still seems to believe that a look at the chequered and colorful pasts may comfort us. So that his painting is an astonishing tour de force and may perhaps rank among the choice nostalgia genres at the moment.
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