Lancelot Ribeiro was one of the most original of the Indian artists who settled in Britain after the Second World War. Although there has been a surge of interest in art of the sub-continent in recent years, with works by such artists as Ribeiro’s half-brother F N Souza, S Bakre, Avinash Chandra, V S Gaitonde, M F Husain and Balraj Khanna sought by international as well as Indian collectors, Ribeiro remains largely neglected.
After a first sell-out solo exhibition at the Bombay Artist Aid Centre in 1961, a high-profile commission from Tata as his first patron and several more shows, he left to establish himself in London in 1962. At this time his work was strongly influenced by his Roman Catholic and Goan-Indian heritage. Settled in England, he became a leading advocate for Indian artists through such bodies as the Indian Painters Collective.
Finding traditional oil paint inadequate to cope with his natural inventiveness and seeking exciting new effects and faster drying speeds, Ribeiro experimented in the early 1960s to develop a usable acrylic paint. His restless imagination over the next 50 years prompted canvases filled with spiky townscapes, gorgeously coloured surreal scenes, disturbing heads, flying landscapes and playful wood sculptures.
Ribeiro was hugely prolific. Although a series of solo and mixed shows in England and abroad excited collector-interest through much of his life, during his final years he withdrew from the art world and so became largely forgotten. Post-death, however, his story told here has witnessed a revival. It is clear that his reputation as a painter of international stature is now receiving its well-overdue attention.
David Buckman has been a journalist and author for 50 years. After the first edition of his dictionary Artists in Britain since 1945 appeared in 1998 (second, revised and expanded, edition, 2006) he concentrated on arts writing. He contributed to Macmillan’s The Dictionary of Art and Brian McFarlane’s The Encyclopedia of British Film. In 2012 Francis Boutle Publishers published his From Bow to Biennale: Artists of the East London Group. He is an advisor to the Public Catalogue Foundation and a council member of The Critics’ Circle.