Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2023 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Ram Kumar (1924 - 2018)
Untitled(Painted in 2004)

Acrylic on canvas

88.9 × 55.9 cm. 35 × 22 in.

Signed in English and dated on the reverse
Acquired directly by present private Asian collector from the artist

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued and signed by the artist

Breaker of Barriers, Sincere Calling for Liberty and PeaceIndian Modern Art Master Kumar’s Humanistic Care

Born in India in 1924, Ram Kumar studied Economics at Delhi University in his early years, yet he became attached to art and studied painting at a night school. After graduation, Kumar resolutely gave up the opportunity of working in the financial industry and went to France in 1949, painting under the guidance of Reger and Lotter. He returned to India in 1952 and became a member of the “avant-garde artist group”, promoting Expressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Cubism. The group’s proposal aimed to challenge the religious nationalist “Bengal School” which dominated Indian art then, and break the shackles of the traditional portrait and religious paintings. Kumar won the Indian “National Prize” twice, separately in 1956 and 1958, and was awarded the “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” issued by the French government in 2003. He has held over 40 solo exhibitions at the galleries and art museums in New Delhi, Mumbai, London and New York, being honoured as one of the “most important abstract artists in Indian Modern art”.

Untitled was created in 2004, during Kumar’s later years when he managed to harmoniously combine the features of early portraits and abstract landscape painting in his middle and late periods. His interest in portrait painting originated in his travelling and studying experience in France, where he studied art and supported himself by translating Indian, simultaneously witnessing the struggle of the lower-class people in the urban areas during the economic depression. Western Realist master Courbet said, “I have never seen either angels or goddesses, so I am not interested in painting them.” The humanistic care and sympathy for the living plight of the people at the bottom have become an eternal subject in Kumar’s works.

At the centre of Untitled, there are three figures of different skins with their heads combined with the lower architecture. The abstract patterns accumulate like building blocks, suggesting the living space of the poor urban people. The fantastic juxtaposition of half-abstract, half-realistic imagery indicates the tragic social phenomenon that people are bound to the narrow space. Moreover, there is no eye contact between the three characters as their eyes drift in dispersive directions, embodying the interpersonal barriers and indifference in modern urban life. However, the artist uses an overwhelming warm-toned palette, including golden brown, orange, and ochre, which makes the overall atmosphere gentle and peaceful. At the same time, Kumar adopts dynamic strokes with white to combine virtual and real brushwork, giving the work both a mottled, heavy historical quality and a sense of dynamic. The work seems to tell us that humanistic care, instead of disappearing, is temporarily covered by predicaments, and the seemingly unremovable barriers can be broken. The work expresses the artist’s optimism and confidence in the world and a sincere calling for global peace, liberty and equality despite the current plights.

Price estimate:
HKD: 150,000 – 250,000
USD: 19,100 – 31,800

Auction Result:
HKD: 180,000



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