Lancelot Ribeiro

Cityscape (Night)

1963

In Tate Britain

Artist
Lancelot Ribeiro 1933 – 2010
Medium
Oil paint on hardboard
Dimensions
Support: 1220 × 916 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Marsha Ribeiro 2021
Reference
T15685

Summary

Cityscape (Night) 1963 is an oil painting on hardboard of an unspecified townscape. The night sky dominates much of the composition, appearing as an expansive black field scattered with twinkling white and yellow stars. Beneath the sky, multiple geometric shapes are stacked to form oddly angled towers. The artist appears to have used a palette knife to scrape back layers of paint to create a rough textural surface for the urban buildings.

Landscapes – especially roofscapes and townscapes such as this one – are a major theme throughout Ribeiro’s work, but particularly in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ribeiro wrote:
‘None of these landscapes are of actual places but a sort of collective experience … my first influences … were the churches and statuary of the Catholic church in Goa along with the symbolic ritual that went with it. The other and perhaps the strongest influence were the paintings of my brother, ten years senior.’ (Quoted in Hazell 2013, p.17.) Ribeiro refers here to his half-brother, the artist Francis Newton Souza (1924–2002, Tate T06776, T13899, T00725). Ribeiro worked for Souza as a studio assistant as well as living with him in London at various points after first arriving there from Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1950. He attended life drawing classes at St Martin’s School of Art from 1951–3, before he was conscripted into National Service. He thereafter left London for several years for Bombay, where he began painting and exhibiting widely, before moving permanently back to London in in 1962. He created a large body of figurative and abstract work over his lifetime.

Together with fellow painters Gajanan D. Bhagwat, Yashwant Mali and Ibrahim Wagh (all previously members of the Bombay Art Society), Ribeiro co-founded the Indian Painters Collective, a group of young Indian artists living and working in London who organised exhibitions of South Asian artists throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Cityscape (Night) was one of eight landscape paintings by Ribeiro included in the group’s first exhibition, Six Indian Painters, held in 1964 at India House in London, and its image was used to illustrate the exhibition flyer.

Further reading
David Buckman, Lancelot Ribeiro: An Indian Artist in India and Europe, London, 2014, reproduced p.49.
Katriana Hazell (ed.), Restless Ribeiro: An Indian Artist in Britain, exhibition catalogue, Asia House, London, 2013.

Laura Castagnini
August 2020

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