Lancelot Ribeiro

Untitled (Drawing)


Not on display

Lancelot Ribeiro 1933 – 2010
Watercolour, ink, shellac, polyvinyl acetate, coloured pencil and graphite on paper
Support: 200 × 251 mm
Presented by Marsha Ribeiro 2021


This is one of a group of four untitled drawings in pen and watercolour on paper in Tate’s collection by the Indian-born artist Lancelot Ribeiro, all of which date from 1964 (Tate T15686T15689). Each of these small figurative drawings combines blocks of bright watercolour paint with organic intricate patterns drawn in black pen on white paper. Although much of the imagery is abstract, recognisable forms such as faces and landscape or manmade elements often appear.

Characteristic of Ribeiro’s method, the drawings are not based on any specific location, but present scenes drawn from his imagination. In one a domestic interior is suggested through patterned wallpaper, a water jug and a ceiling lamp. In another a large disembodied head filled with several smaller heads dominates the composition. Curator Katriana Hazell has described this scene as ‘a miraculous revelation in the middle of a scorched rosy landscape by a flaming tree’ (Hazell 2013, p.35).

Landscapes 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.

It is believed that the Untitled drawings were exhibited at Sussex University in Ribeiro’s solo exhibition there in 1973; alongside twenty-eight paintings, including The Warlord 1966 (Tate T15684), the exhibition catalogue lists an unspecified number of untitled ‘line and wash drawings’.

Further reading
David Buckman, Lancelot Ribeiro: An Indian Artist in India and Europe, London, 2014, reproduced p.82.
Katriana Hazell (ed.), Restless Ribeiro: An Indian Artist in Britain, exhibition catalogue, Asia House, London, 2013, reproduced p.35.

Laura Castagnini
August 2020

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