Artist Ramu Das’ lotus symbolises joy and peace

The artist’s fascination for the motif is abundantly evident in his solo show at Hyderabad’s Kalakriti Art Gallery

A 54×64 inches colourful canvas filled with white lotuses surrounding a wounded Bhishma lying on a bed of arrows that seem like lotus flowers, depicts artist Ramu Das’ epic imagination. The ‘Petamaha’ painting derived from the battle scene of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata is among the few figurative works displayed at the artist’s solo show ‘An Idyllic World, The Real & The Imagined’ at Kalakriti Art Gallery in Hyderabad. “Bheeshma was in deep pain but also content, symbolising purity,” says Ramu of the lotuses swaying in his favourite work. The lotus series has been his focus for six years now, blending the real and surreal.

Recurring motif

‘Petamaha’ by Ramu Das | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The 16 colourful works on display comprise a blend of acrylics and oil on canvas. Inspired by his life experiences, the artist’s compositions are both visually aesthetic and symbolic too. Their vibrant natural world encompasses different themes — personal, social, and political. “The lotus is used in worship and is considered a manifestation of the divine. The flower symbolises purity and a motif to convey emotions,” he elaborates.

Hailing from Teor village in Dakshin Dinajpur district of West Bengal, Ramu’s memories of the lotus hold a special place. “Lotuses are in great demand and many people create small ponds to farm the flowers. Besides creating business through export, the lotus also has medicinal uses,” he says.

Ramu Das | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

While his father was a theatre artist, Ramu’s grandfather was an artist. Recalling a small incident that made him more focussed on art, he says. “My art teacher had once appreciated a peacock drawing of mine. It encouraged me and watching my grandfather paint also motivated me.”

His professional journey began with commissioned works — decorations for weddings, writing slogans on walls during elections and advertisements for government welfare schemes. Recognising his interest and skills in painting, Nimai Laha, the librarian of their village library suggested that he should pursue art. “Only then I got to know that one can make it a career in art,” he recollects.

‘Tree Lover’ by Ramu Das | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

His artistic journey began with a textile design course at Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan in ’98 and continued to practice as a freelance artist from Santiniketan after his MFA. Ramu explores different human emotions and complex thought patterns through symbolic and metaphoric representation. His use of the lotus motif as a symbol is inspired by his visits to the Buddhist temples in Darjeeling and Nepal where he saw the way the flower was represented in paintings. “It brought back memories of the Ajanta caves I had visited as an art student,” he adds.

His current works are figurative ones with the lotus and he hopes to next focus on the motif and its spiritual element.

(The exhibition ‘An Idyllic World, The Real & The Imagined’ on till November 30 )

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