Chameli Ramachandran’s gentle brush strokes revere nature
Walking into the newly renovated Surrendra Paul Art Gallery in Sangeet Shyamala, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, one comes face to face with the gentle creations of Chameli Ramachandran Tan Yuan. Mountains touched with gold, ocean-scapes that dance and pulsate with an internal rhythm, trees that sway and wave in the wind, carnations that yield their sensuous intoxication of pink and the curvaceous lip of a red dog rose, envelope one’s senses. The works are not very large and yet their delicateness and technical flair invite you to come closer for a more intimate look.
Chameli, was born in Santiniketan, West Bengal in 1940 to artist parents. She imbibed the spirit of Santiniketan at a very early age and was surrounded by nature and sensitized to art by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, who indecently picked out her name. After her schooling, in a Bengali medium, at Patha-Bhavana,
she joined Kala-Bhavana to study art under masters like Benode Behari Mukherjeeand Ramkinkar Baij.
Under their tutelage she perfected the wash-technique, a Japanese style of painting that utilized ink and wash. “I was very lucky to have been born in Santiniketan and whatever I know about art is because of that place. Its very different from the rest of the world,” says the artist. Through this technique Chameli captures
the gentle amity amongst natural elements with a meditative gaze that extends
beyond mere botanical observation.
“Chameli depicts the character of each tree with the flow of her brush. The
rhythmic treatment of the different kinds of trees that she paints while she
spends her winter months in the USA reflects her oneness with the spirit of
nature,” writes Ella Dutta.
The exhibition at Surrendra Paul Art Gallery is an abridged version of the larger solo that opened at Vadehra Art Gallery, which constituted around 90 paintings by the
artist executed in ink and water-colour since 2015. The artist is inspired by the vegetal life in her residential garden in Delhi and those in
the USA. Each study is an intimate conversation with her muse, nature.
Her meditative gaze that extends beyond mere observation, for she brings to each study a lyrical intensity which is in keeping with her own personality. Aware of the historical representation of the flowers she depicts in her compositions (such as the lotus, chrysanthemum and peony) in Asian art, Chameli opts for an amorphous, and often haunting, performance of nature in her works that defy the limits of the page and express a wild sensuality.
Married to the doyen of an artist, A Ramachandran, Chameli has carved out her own niche as an artist and her style is very distinct to her husbands. Her palette is often muted and gentle while his flames with colours. However what both artists definitely share in common is the love for nature and a wish to surround themselves with its abundance and beauty.