Two of a Kind: F N Souza and Lancelot Ribeiro

F N Souza, the “enfant terrible” of modern Indian art, hardly needs an introduction. His less known half-brother, Lancelot Ribeiro, might. As two paintings from important phases in their artistic careers go on auction in June, we look at intersections in their life and art.

Read more ›

Retracing Ribeiro

Guest contributor Ananya Mukhopadhyay reviews Indian modernist Lancelot Ribeiro’s London exhibition

An exhibition at the Burgh House & Hampstead Museum in London marks the beginning of a year-long programme of events to explore and celebrate the work of the late Indian painter Lancelot Ribeiro. As part of the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture, Retracing Ribeiro is a Heritage Lottery-funded project which will examine the artist’s vibrant and often understudied oeuvre through a series of exhibitions and talks.

Having first travelled to the UK in 1950 to study accounting, Ribeiro quickly became disenchanted with both the London weather and his chosen vocation. While living in London Ribeiro acted as studio assistant to his half-brother, Francis Newton Souza, and also started to create his own works. He eventually abandoned his accountancy course and enrolled in St. Martin’s School of Art. Shortly after his graduation however, the artist was required to leave London for his National Service in the Royal Air Force, somewhat interrupting his artistic development. Following his discharge, Ribeiro returned to India and held several successful solo exhibitions before returning to England in mid-1962.

untitled-blue-and-green-landscape-1961Untitled (Blue and Green Landscape), 1961
Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Renowned gallerist Nicholas Treadwell was to be a great champion of the Indian artists who had settled in post-war London, selling their work door-to-door from his furniture van-cum-gallery space. As part of Asian Art in London 2016, Treadwell gave a talk at the British Museum recalling his dealings with Ribeiro and contemporaries Bakre and Souza as he trundled up and down the country in his mobile gallery. All three artists featured in Grosvenor Gallery’s show Indian Modernist Landscapes 1950-1970: Bakre, Ribeiro, Souza, on view 3 – 12 November at 32 St. James’s Street, London.

rib-untitled-white-landscape-1964Untitled (Red Landscape with Dome), 1966
Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery

Retracing Ribeiro is a chance to experience the extraordinary range of painterly styles practiced by the late modernist, from rare, naturalistic watercolours of Hampstead Heath, to expressionistic Goan landscapes punctuated with the spires and domes of his childhood. The artist’s pioneering use of PVA mixed with fabric dyes in the early 1960s presaged the widespread uptake of acrylic paints in the years that followed, a feat with which Ribeiro is rarely credited. His careful oil compositions have equally received little attention, in spite of their enduring vibrancy and strength of expression.

The Retracing Ribeiro exhibition will be on view at Burgh House & Hampstead Museum until 19 March 2017, while a heritage display from the Ribeiro archive will be on show at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre from 6 February 2017 – 31 March 2017. Forthcoming events include talks by David Buckman, author of Lancelot Ribeiro: An Artist in India and Europe, and an evening of lectures and music at the Victoria & Albert Museum early next year. For more information and a full calendar of events, visit www.lanceribeiro.co.uk/news.htm.

A drive down the French countryside would yield this…if you were in the 1950s…and if you were S.H. Raza

Rashmi Rajgopal picks Raza’s Terre Jaune from the upcoming September Modern Evening Sale.

Lot 20: Terre Jaune

Lot 20: S. H. Raza’s Terre Jaune

On the Surface: Can identify houses, choc-a-bloc. They’re sandwiched between yellow—possibly some kind of field—and a deep blue sky. Nice use of primary colours there. Colour appears in swatches. It appears to be almost emotive.

What Lies Beneath: A countryside? The French countryside. Specifically, central and southern France, perhaps Carcassonne or Provence, which he mentions while referring to the countryside. What’s the yellow bit? Could be either poppy or sunflower fields. The choc-a-bloc homes? Typical of French villages.

Question: How can you be so sure it’s not just any countryside?

The Story Goes:  Many, many decades ago—1949, to be precise, Raza set sail for more artistic pastures. Paris called, with its thriving art scene and multiple art movements fast gaining in momentum. It wasn’t just that. On a trip to Kashmir a year prior, Raza had bumped into Henri Cartier-Bresson. Bresson’s advice to him was something like, “Well, you’ve got talent, but you need to pay more attention to how to ‘construct’ a painting. Why don’t you take a gander at Matisse, Cezanne and co.?” Those words stayed with him, and that’s precisely what he did while at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. But what did Bresson mean by ‘construct’ a painting? Put very simply, he had asked Raza to look more closely at why artists did what they did, and how they went about it. Think of it as building something: you lay a solid foundation, then you erect the outer skeleton, then you fill in the gaps to create the final structure and voila!

Of course, education is incomplete if you don’t throw in some travelling for good measure. Raza did just that—travelled around, imbibed as much as he could from what he observed. But it was the French countryside that he took a strong liking to. So it kept cropping up in his paintings, and Terre Jaune is one of those beautifully made scapes.

Sunflowers in Provence Courtesy: shelovesglam.com

Sunflowers in Provence
Courtesy: shelovesglam.com

Then, after a period of “I’m going to construct gorgeous landscapes”, Raza segued into a more “I’m going to spontaneously and emotively create gorgeous landscapes”. Why? Partly because that was the trend doing the rounds at the time, and partly because he kind of ‘evolved’ to this phase. A trip to University of California, Berkeley, pushed him towards it after he encountered Rothko, Hoffman and others.

Or you could also look at it as mastering a particular technique, and then, after years of working on it, deciding that it’s easy; it’s perhaps got some limitations, and it’s time to move on to another way of looking at things.

Gigi Scaria Finds Meaning in Endless Landscapes

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart discusses Gigi Scaria’s new exhibition in Melbourne.

New York: Kothanalloor-based artist Gigi Scaria is currently presenting his exhibition “Dust” at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne. The works included were created specifically for the Ian Potter Museum and take the artist on new levels of his craft. Scaria focuses on the desolate desert of India’s border with Pakistan. This is a controversial, but primarily empty and fruitless geographic space.

Prior to the exhibition Scaria traveled to the Thar Desert and found the beautiful nuances of this natural wasteland for his photographs. The desert terrain turned out to have more to offer than simply dust and sand manipulated by the wind. Salt marshes, small patches of plant life and various mineral formations presented themselves. The artist utilizes the non-descript quality of this space, elements of this environment have a universal quality. It is not innately obvious in his photographs where this land is; it could be in any country or perhaps be the remote terrain of another planet. Scaria’s utilization of these spaces is centered on his belief that non-identifiable spaces will leave room for the engagement of viewers. While only leaving hints of a physical space the works offers opportunity for true memories and fantasy. Scaria’s work not only brings a viewer into this remote geographical space but also prompts meaning and emotions to animate the endless landscape.

“Dust” includes three levels of video, photography and installation work. Although this type of work is a bit of an offshoot from his typical technique, his artist process is present in the way he honors the original image yet manipulates it ever so slightly for the viewer. Prior to this exhibition he was one of the five artists to represent India in the Venice Biennale in 2011. He was also a 2012 University of Melbourne MacGeorge Fellow. “Dust” will be at the Ian Potter Museum of Art well into the new year, wrapping up on March 16th. Art enthusiasts in visiting Melbourne in the coming months should definitely experience Scaria’s “Dust”. For more information please visit the Ian Potter Museum website. 

‘Restless Ribeiro: An Indian Artist in Britain’ – An Exhibition at Asia House

Emily Jane Cushing shares a note on the Lance Ribeiro exhibition currently on view at Asia House, London.

lance

Lance Ribeiro

London: This exhibition, the third retrospective of Ribeiro’s work since his death in 2010, displays a plethora of the artist’s diverse work including portraits, still life and abstract compositions in media such as acrylic and watercolour, as well as some of the lesser known sculptures by the artist.

Lance Rebeiro

Lance Ribeiro

Born in Bombay, Ribeiro hails from a Catholic Portuguese family from Goa. In 1950, he arrived in London intending to study accountancy. However, he soon enrolled at St. Martin’s School of Art, to study life drawing. During the years that followed, Ribeiro lived between London and Paris. Upon his return to Bombay in 1955, he embraced his passion for both art and literature, and in 1958 began painting professionally. Both his Catholic and Goan heritage inspired his imagined scenes, several of which incorporate Catholic imagery.

RR ASIA HOUSE

Untitled, 1962, Oil on board, 60.5 x 91.5 cm

Ribeiro’s artistic output was original and prolific; when considering his work he states he painted, ‘impulsively, compulsively, endlessly, tired and tirelessly with or without joy’. Both the subject matter and the style of Ribeiro’s work changed vastly over the course of his career, from the 1950s till his death in 2010.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The exhibition is on view from 24 May to the 29 June, 2013, from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Saturday.

Talks about the Lance Ribeiro and his work will be held on 30 May and 12 June at Asia House.

To learn more, browse the exhibition page on Asia House’s website.

An e-catalogue for the exhibition is also available on the artist’s website.

%d bloggers like this: