Born in 1935 in Kerala, A. Ramachandran graduated with a degree in Malayalam Literature from Kerala University before pursuing a Diploma in Fine Arts. As a student at Kala Bhavan in Santineketan, Ramachandran studied art under masters like Ramkinkar Baij and Benodebehari Mukherjee. The cultural and intellectual milieu of Santiniketan drew him closer to the art traditions of India and other eastern civilizations and it is here that he began his lifelong research on the Mural Painting tradition of temples in Kerala.
Ramachandran initially painted in an Expressionistic style that reflected the angst of urban life, particularly the suffering he saw when visiting the city of Kolkata, but by the 1980s his style had undergone a vital change. From urban reality he moved his focus towards tribal community life, especially the tribes from Rajasthan, whose lives and culture gripped his imagination. The vibrant ethos of Rajasthan and his research on the mural paintings of Kerala influenced his expression. The decorative elements and myths became an integral part of his works and his powerful line along with a greater understanding of colour and form created a dramatic ambience. His sculptures, which he made in the later years, were almost three dimensional translations of his paintings, containing multiple narratives and mythological interpretations.
Ramachandran has two over-lapping life-long passions. One is Kerala’s Mural painting traditions and two, community living of the tribes of Rajasthan. He uses the intrinsic decorative traditions of the Rajasthan miniature painting and motifs that are still in use by the tribe people. Their vibrancy is captured in colour, muted at times and riotous at others. His trade-mark autobiographical fly-on the-wall adds humour in his artwork. He is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and has several other prestigious awards to his credit. Some of them include the Raja Ravi Varma Puruskar in 2003 and the National Award for Painting in both 1973 and 1969.
The artist lives and works at New Delhi.