K. Ramanujam (1940 – 1973)

K. Ramanujan, was a self-taught artist as a young, impoverished boy who soldsmall pen and ink drawings to scrape together a skimpy meal. He was the classic,unfortunate penurious artist, and there was nothing romantic about that. Exceptthe brilliance of his art, its fecund and fantastic imagery, its original techniques andthe dark outpourings of his imaginings onto the canvas.A troubled artist struggling with his own self-image, Ramanujan was aschizophrenic.K C S Panikar, his teacher and Principal at the School of Art and Craft, Madras,observed that he clung to his solitary gift of painting to keep the depressionfrom setting in. Ramanujam quickly absorbed the technique of painting at the artschool, and began to paint a profusion of pictures, each a detailed record of afantastic dream he had had. The artist often fused the personal, the absurd andthe eternal.Unlike his own personality, his drawings were assured, with huge, bold and intricatepatterns and minute details. He went on to stay at the Cholamandal Art Village, andcame to be known as a Cholamandal artist. He slipped further into despondency.It was the best time of his art career – his works were getting recognized. In fact,the renowned Sri Lankan architect, Geoffery Bawa, commissioned Ramanujan todo three huge murals for Hotel Connemara in Chennai. Nothing lifted him fromhis depression, though. He died tragically young at the age of 33.

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