Visions remapped: Homage to Ramlal Dhar
O I say, these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul. /O I say these are the soul!
– Walt Whitman
Ramlal Dhar's last body of work comprises visions which are at once filled to the brim with life and only too conscious of death: the traditional and the contemporary are dovetailed with one another, linking a passing world with an emerging one. It is fascinating to the look at the sensuality of these works, the wealth and vibrancy of their colours and to attempt to unlock their secrets. They combine the intrinsic and the abstract, illation and sensitivity and maintain a harmony between their subjects and its ornamentation. In this way, Ramlal Dhar incorporated the sublimity that was characteristic of his artistic practice. To the end of his life he never lost his hunger for work or the freshness of his vision. The vitality of his art is , in some way, inextricably linked to his vitality as an artist in managing to achieve striking clarity and simplicity in the expression of complex ideas. Deeply emotional and personal, the absolute harmony of colour and light is these works arouses in the viewer a restful and deep sense of peace. He brought to each of these works the most deeply felt, yet delicate, of moods. Intimate and lyrical, they delve into both the present and the eternal.
The crucial theme addressed in these works is love of life itself. Which is almost ecstatic and transport the viewer to a magical domain? It is an invitation to a garden of earthly delights but reminds us of a proximity to a garden of heavenly delights. The word 'delight' truly lies at the heart of Ramlal Dhar's art. Too often we forget that delight is its own rationale and purpose, that it is an expression of joie de vivre. This is joyous art, an art of delighting in life, of finding certain, surprising things side by side and the delight of those things in them. It is also about the delight of beauty. Despite being steeped in a modernist tradition, Dhar chose not to make the mistake of many contemporary artists and turn his back on beauty. In terms of their subject matter, his paintings are committed to beauty. Look at what he gives us: lovers, beautiful bodies, trees, leaves, and recognition of the presence of the Devine. These are the great subject of art. Dhar's art like Walt Whitman's is an art of delight, a delight in the variegated aspects of life.
Ramlal Dhar's work is not only beautiful but rapturous as well. One is struck with the beauty of the lovers' heads as well as the presence of a land as old as time. Here is sheer delight t, the very song of the body electric, the essence that speaks to the spirit as well, that invokes the name of the most holy in the midst of great passion. Ramlal Dhar was at his most successful when yoking the sensual to the sacred and these works are no exception .Throughout this show, in fact throughout his oeuvre, Ramlal Dhar's work celebrates both the universality of human experience and its specificity. In its reverence for beauty, its quest to transcend the boundaries of time and place, to distill the emotional resonance of an image, place or a moment, his art asks us to put aside the critical faculties, to open ourselves to the grandeur and the depth of feeling within each of us and revel in the unabashed joy of beauty.