A. Ramachandran [b. 1935], is one of India’s most reputed artists known primarily for his mythological narratives and his conversations with nature that distinctly have his personal aesthetics. Clearly, his early engagement with murals in the Kerala temples, their decorative quality, became his vocabulary for years to come. He has shown extensively in India and abroadand has received the Padma Bhushan by the Govern- ment of India in 2005 and the Raja Ravi Verma Puraskar by the Government of Kerala in 2003. Ramachan-dran is also an author and has several books to his credit. Here, his former student, artist Manisha Gera Baswani, is in conversation with him.
Manisha Gera Baswani: Tell me about your childhood in Kerala. Born in Attingal, a small princi- pality, you grew up with an intimacy to nature, urban kids like us had only read about and visualised in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Roald Dahl.
A. Ramachandran: As a kid, I would skip across paddy fields; find my way to local temples, soak in my surroundings, partake in the daily rituals of a culturally rich town and at the same time, fantasise a personal can- vas. This was to leave a mark on my fertile, young mind.
My early exposure to art was through my grand aunt. Unmarried, and a teacher, she painted like the reknowned artist, Raja Ravi Varma. People found her crazy but I was very fond of her. She also fed me amazing food every time I visited her.
In 1950, when I was 15, we left our hometown and moved to Trivandrum. I remember making regular visits to the Sri Chitra Art Gallery. The peon there hat- ed me as he had to get up and switch on the lights when I visited the museum.