Dr.Lal Ratnakar , born on August 12 ,1957 in a remote village of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, has arrived on the art stage after much struggle. There was tremendous resistance from his family during his early days; since the elders of his family were physicians, and they wanted him to continue the family traditions.
Dr. Ratnakar completed his Ph.D work on Folk Art Of Eastern Uttar Pradesh under the able guidance of Prof. Anand Krishna from B.H.U. Varanasi. Since then he had worked on to bring out the beauty and pain of Indian women folk, belonging to the different parts of the country, onto the canvas, through some revolutionary colour schemes and realistic compositions. One can notice a hue of earthy tones all over his canvas. One can also observe that in his paintings, he had given more preference to women and their struggle with life. He is of the opinion that the expressive power of women is much greater than that of men and specifically among village women, it is distinctly noticeable.
Most of his works are melancholic, representing the general mood of rural women burdened by strictures imposed on them by the predominantly male chauvinistic society. As mentioned earlier his compositions are realistic with strong emotional undercurrents. One can liken his images to that of the characters in the stories of Munshi Premchand, who also chose the province of Poorvanchal as the centre stage of his creations (short stories and novels). On observing his paintings one can feel the emotions of the subjects portrayed in his works. Emotions as varied as anger, lust, insecurities, shame, sadness, love, hate, etc. Some of his works are so comprehensive that he had assigned different emotions to each of his subjects within a single frame. In one of his paintings he had filled silent moans of a bride, who is about to leave her parental home to a distant place where her in-laws reside, never to come back for good, not sure of what lies in store for her in days to come. The bride is going through a feeling of excitement as well as fear, It seems Ratnakar, like a spirit, has entered into the subject and read the feelings, himself.
Apart from sighs and cries of individual subjects Dr. Ratnakar had also dealt with the politics of the area under his study. He had given form to some political elements like cast supremacy and exploitation of the weak. At certain points he had criticised the clergy and at some places he had applauded the good works of the torch bearers of Indian culture. His language though looks simple, has many layers to it, one can appreciate it only by observing his work.
Dr. Ratnakar has also given his due to the society in general, and to the artist community in particular. He had been associated with Kaladham, a centre of art that came up at Kavi Nagar Ghaziabad. This is one of the best things to have happened in this part of NCR. Kaladham has an art gallery and an open-air theatre in a big compound, this is perfect space for art connoisseurs as they get opportunities to see the work of various artist as many exhibitions and workshops are organized here quite frequently. Dr. Ratnakar had painstakingly pursued the dream, was instrumental in arranging the funds and convincing the political leadership of Uttar Pradesh about the need of Kaladham. It was his stature as an artist that ultimately, led the leadership to consider his worthy proposal.
In the meanwhile Dr. Ratnakar had held solo shows and exhibitions all over the country, and that too in reputed art galleries. Some of his work had also been exhibited abroad, like the one in Dubai from where he received a lot of accolades. Many great poets and novelists had utilized Ratnakar’s paintings and sketches to add to the visual content of their work. They have used his paintings to illustrate the cover of their publications, his sketches to aid in visualizing the background of the plot. Since Ratnakar’s paintings and sketches render the essence of rural life, its culture and ethos, he has become a house hold name among literary circle and their target readers.
With artists abounding in numbers, standing out among the crowd is a major challenge. Some of them get the right break by virtue of their talent and sheer originality. Dr. Lal Ratnakar undoubtedly belongs to this category. Dr. Ratnakar is an experimenter in his field. He had evolved his own bold style of expression which stands out among the crowd. His works hold a place of prominence in the artistic world. Ratnakar vividly portrays people and their everyday affliction in wonderful colour combinations. Art lovers , Critics and Art Collectors have appreciated his work and it had found place in their hearts and homes. He had come a long way and he is bound to go much further. He is presently working as Associate Professor & Head in Department of Drawing & Painting MMH College Ghaziabad (CCS university Meerut)
Ratnakar is presently conducting a solo exhibition titled “ Vibes of Womenfolk” at Lalit Kala Akademi. This is an exhibition of his selected works and as the title suggests one can actually feel the vibes that emanates from each of his paintings. It is this vibes, created from his brush that is crucial in stirring the sensibilities of the viewer.