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Primitivism in modern fabric - Maredu Ramu's solo show of paintings

Even if Artist Maredu Ramu claims to depict the spirit of his hometown Hyderabad, his paintings capture the pulse of every thriving city in the country. In a way, his paintings are reminders of the fact that one metro of India is the refection of another even if the languages differ.

In the mid 20th century, several artists in India were motivated by the simplicity and honesty of the lives and traditions in the villages of our country. Their form of primitivism was slightly different than that of the west where the artists wanted to revive the past, the pre-industrialization days, because their villages or country sides too lost the pristine serenity.

This desire to invoke the innocent vitality of the village, gifted us artists like Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-gil. But we are now living in 21st century and wave of development had been sweeping through every nook and corner of the country since the days of independence. Of course, there is a long way to go for the country with hundreds of millions of poor.

But thanks to this rapid progress, everything seems to be under construction at any point of time. Sweaty struggling bodies mingle with suave and delicate men and women. Calm simplicity of the village merges into the noisy pandemonium of the city.

Ramu's expression on canvas captures the contrast in true spirit. The rugged and dusty pillars poking through the sky in the back drop of tall proud skyscrapers present the image of the ceaseless state of being in the making. The auto rickshaw, the hawker-woman and the writings on the walls reflect the ironical reality of the struggle of the class of men and women dislocated from the silence and stability of the countryside. Two cows stand in contrast facing each other. One eating fresh clean grass and the other, plastic. His canvases are the embodiment of the peril of primitivism that was celebrated by the artists hundred years ago. They represent a dynamic image of the ongoing war between development and nature.

Overall, Maredu Ramu's works hold up the stark reality of today's India. His oeuvre is a melting pot of every element of our lives today, The confusion, the irony, the noise, the pandemonium.

The solo exhibition at Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Mumbai will go on until 1st March '24. It is an unmissable visual treat.

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