Lok Chitran – Solo Exhibition – Curated by Sumesh Manoj Sharma

by Dr. Shiv Nath Ram

People Painting / Lok Chitran – Solo  by Dr Shiv Nath Ram , curated by Ananta Singh & Gaurav Phaterpekar  on June 7 – July 9 2021 

A suite of 39 imperial size pencil drawings constitute  the solo exhibition of Shiv Nath Ram (1951)  at Gallery Art & Soul.  The exhibition is a portrait of a Lokchitrakar or a People’s Painter , who practices ‘ ‘People  Painting’  , it is a story of emancipatory aesthetics traversing India’s modern history since it became a Republic in 1951.  The artist is a retired professor  of painting from the Banaras Hindu University.  The works are mixed media presentations drawn on paper with pencil and at times watercolour.  The exhibition was initiated at the insistence of his students who wanted to see him given the place he deserved in Art History.  The works are paintings he did between 2019 and 2021 and a majority have been executed during India’s long lockdown we have faced since commencement of the covid-19 pandemic.  This is his first solo presentation in a commercial art gallery.  

The depiction of people in their quotidian activities and surroundings has found subject in the repertoire of many artists.  Kathe Kollwitz in the ‘ Peasant War’ a series executed between 1902 and 1908 etched the lives and struggles of peasants in southern Germany where she gave an iconic representation of a mother searching for the corpse of her son among the many dead.  Kollwitz was able to connect with this depiction not only from a political perspective but also one that had a deep personal connection, she came from the working classes.  Later she goes upon to illustrate the lives of weavers from Silesia.  Shiv Nath Ram a retired professor from Azamgarh in his third year of his bachelors in Fine Arts to support himself began working with the weavers of Benaras , making designs for Benarasi Sarees.  Sarees that are embroidered in gold and are to be sold at high prices without the profits ever reaching the weavers or those who authored the design, rather the profits were to be appropriated by the middle men and owners of showrooms across the world.  Shiv Nath Ram chose a medium that would represent his personal history, allow him to be the People’s Painter.  For hours he would fill imperial size drawing sheets, making blunt many pencils, with depictions of his people, his past and his present.  ‘ ‘ I come from a place where travesties and troubles of life do not allow me to paint a rose, my works depicts the very people to whom I belong.” – Shiv Nath Ram.