‘Heads - In and out of our time’


“There is an inner ‘noise’ when I begin to paint. I would like to stop. To pause a moment but this seems impossible.”

As the 1990s progressed, Ribeiro began a new series of large paintings. These incorporated elements of his earlier townscapes and patterns reminiscent of his geologically-inspired period. He combined modern-day acrylic paints with collage, and was still using some of his old PVA stock. Destruction, devastation and apocalyptic scenes permeated through much of what was a feverish period of activity:

“The images I work with focus on the anthropocentrism confronting us. There is an innate sense of doom in this that appears inescapable. This does not seem to trouble Humankind when, really, it ought to. We are led from catastrophe to catastrophe, cataclysms with all the awe-inspiring power of natural forces and, as if this were not enough, we deal out cataclysmic excesses of our own.”

The positive German reception to his work provided food for his soul and by the mid-1990s, Ribeiro had had eight shows and been inspired to return to writing poetry and short theatrical pieces.

In 1998, he had an exhibition at Delhi's L.T.G. Gallery, the first following a 30-year absence on the Indian exhibition circuit. ‘Heads’, were the focus and he told friends he one day hoped to have a show entitled ‘Heads - In and Out of our Time’. However, the L.T.G. show proved a struggle commercially as the Asian recession hit the art market.

Creatively, Ribeiro remained undeterred. He was writing with a feverish intensity and still painting. His notes occupied every inch of free space in his studio, as if he feared an idea would vanish forever unless it was put down in some form. A poetic touch started to permeate through the titling of his paintings, as in ‘The Flowering of Man’ or ‘In Search of Eurydice’ in contrast to the many untitled pieces of his early work:

“I recalled the paintings he was producing at the time closely mirrored the dreamlike intensity of the worlds he conjured up in these poems. Poetry had re-entered his life... his desire to create spilled off the canvas onto paper and vice versa. It was a side to him that seemed unstoppable and a memory I will always cherish”

In his final decade, Ribeiro watched philosophically the growing interest in Indian modern art, particularly for that of his brother, Souza, having campaigned with other young artists to get recognition for Indian talent some 50 years earlier. His last public showing in Britain was at the British Art Fair in 2010, three months before he died on Christmas Day.

A photograph of Lancelot Ribeiro