Dilip Ranade has long been fascinated by the question, ‘What if?’ His is a speculative and philosophically informed imagination, one that regards normality merely as a skin, which must be scalpelled away to expose the strangeness that lies beneath. The derangement of space, time and identity; the lockdown of gravity and the staggering of clock time; the comfort of distance as measurement and the otherness of distance as mystery: these feature among his central preoccupations. His paintings and drawings act as cloud chambers where thought experiments may be staged, where the trajectory of a conundrum may be graphed and the consequences of a paradox may be savoured in detail.
Like many Indian artists who were embarking on their career in the late 1970s, outside the ferment of Baroda and a few other centres of art education, Ranade had no clear context available to him, vis a vis Minimalism, Conceptualism, Fluxus, Arte Povera, or any of the other tendencies that had shaped the international art scenario after World War II. He began very nearly in vacuo, and among the few points of reference that he had were the accomplished idioms of illustration then encouraged by prestigious Marathi literary magazines such as Satyakatha. It is a tribute to his dedication and resilience that Ranade evolved, over the years, into an heir to the grand tradition of Poe and Baudelaire, of Chirico, Max Ernst and Magritte: their impulses live on in his vigilant cats, keeping watch over pyramids and clock dials; in his greyhounds, leaping over planets and skyscrapers; in his pageant of architecture and mirage.
Ranade’s drawings are embassies of the spirit: annals of a diplomacy between the conscious, shaping mind and that psychic government-in-exile which sends out a stream of fugitive thoughts, half-glimpsed emotions and half-named fantasies, moving us in dream and in action.
While contemplating to visualize an idea for painting, mind flutters like a butterfly all over seeking inspiration in experiences, various art forms like paintings, sculpture, and theatre, mythological stories, in the memory images or sometimes even in my previous works. At times, while doodling, something strikes as a potential schema and possibilities are explored to make it into a significant expression. A vague malleable picture appears in the mind which slowly takes shape and start forming in to an intriguing visual. The mental process of grasping the potential in the schema hints at multiple possibilities. Those are explored further and if found engaging, then the true journey starts .It is steered and taken further till satisfactory configuration has emerged. In spite of all these efforts, work might be a failure which has to be rejected and has to be started afresh.
To look at few of the exemplary works from this group and it’s possible interpretation might help to get insight into process of conceiving a painting.
The painting titled ‘The End of Evil’ could be interpreted as representation of the theme of destruction of the evil element in society, in which a dragon symbolizes the evil. In the black tent or shed, blur images of a horse rider (the saviour) and a dragon are seen engaged in fight. Further, we can imagine that eventually by killing the dragon the saviour relieves people from oppressive situation. This painting is partly inspired by the European paintings on the subject’ Saint George Killing the Dragon’. Whereas in another painting titled ‘No Exit’ a group of people are shown as if trapped, implying helplessness of the human beings.
The work ‘Birth of Pieta ‘refers partly to the concept of Pieta and also to the Michelangelo’s sculpture. It implies, as if the ‘Pieta’ is still in the process of emerging. In the painting titled ‘Nostalgia’ a toy of a dog on wheels is combined with a hand to evoke memories of childhood play of shadow, in the painting.
Dilip Ranade was Born in 1950, Maharashtra.
He holds Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 1971.
In 1984 he received Indo – US sub- Commission grant to study Museology.
He has presented several slide lectures on the subject ’Portraiture and Techniques of Diorama Making.
He has worked with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya , Mumbai ( formerly Prince Of Wales Museum ) in different capacities from 1971 to 2015 i.e. Artist and Modeller in the Natural History Section, Sr. Curator of European and Indian Modern Painting and Exhibition Consultant.
He has held several solo shows and participated in group exhibitions.
Figurations at twilight, Threshold Art & The Art Platform India, 2021.
Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2016 -‘Visual Allegories: Politics of Destabilization
Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012- ‘The Decrypted Self’
Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2011 – ‘The Shimmers of the Self’
Pundol Art Gallery, Mumbai; Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi; Galerie 88, Kolkata;
2007 -2008 ‘Shifting the Logic ‘(Drawings from1977 to 2007)
Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2004, 1999, 1996.
Jehangir Art Gallery ,Mumbai , 2004, 1980, 1978.
Threshold Art Gallery , New Delhi ,2011 ‘ Humour , Wit and Satire
Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and Sudarshan Art Gallery, Pune , 2011 –‘ Rekhavishkar ‘
‘Expanding Horizons’ Sponsored by Bodhi Art Gallery, which travelled to eight cities in Maharashtra, 2008- 2009.
Total Museum, Seoul , South Korea , 2003 , – ‘Eclectic’
Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai, 1999.
He was felicitated in 2018 by the ‘Art Society of India’ Mumbai as eminent artist, in appreciation of his contribution to art.
He was awarded ‘ Balashastri Jambhekar Puraskar’ in 2013 for Marathi translation titled ‘ Rekhachitravichar’ of the catalogue by Ranjit Hoskote ‘ The Crafting of Reality’ of the exhibition of drawings by Sudhir Patwardhan.