Born in Attingal, Kerela, in 1935, A Ramachandran did his M.A.(Malayalam Literature) from Kerala University (1954 -57) followed by a Diploma in Fine Arts and Crafts, Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan (1957-61), and later Ph. D. ('Mural Painting of Kerala') from Visva Bharati (1962 -65). The artist undertook a study tour of Japan in 1975 on Japan Foundation Grant. He moved to New Delhi By the mid-60s and joined the Jamia Milia Islamia in 1965 as a lecturer. He was attached to the university till 1992, and became honorary chairman of Kerala Lalit Kala Akademi in 1991.
Initially, A Ramachandran painted more in an expressionist style that was a poignant reflection of the angst of the prevailing urban life. The large-sized paintings, akin to murals, largely consisted of powerful figuration. His themes and style underwent a major change by the eighties. A tribal community based in Rajasthan with its vibrant lifestyle and ethos grabbed his imagination. Simultaneously, the forms and colours of the murals in the temples of Kerala greatly influenced his mode of expression.
Among his selected solo exhibitions are 'Bahurupi', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2009); a show courtesy Vadehra Art Gallery at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (2008); 'Recent Works', Grosvenor Vadehra, London (2008); ‘Face to Face’, Art Practice of A Ramachandran, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and New York (2007-08); 'The Universe in the Lotus Pond', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi; Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata (2006); Illustrations of ‘Gaudi’s Ocean’, exhibited at Nami Island, South Korea (2005); ‘Yayati’, Art Heritage, New Delhi (2002); ‘Icons of the Raw Earth, Part-I and II’, an exhibition of Bronze Sculptures and Drawings at Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi (1998); ‘Puppet Theatre’, Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi (1981), and ‘Retrospective’, organized by Kumar Gallery, New Delhi (1978).
Apart from major retrospective exhibitions organized by Vadehra Art Gallery, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi (2003-04), by Kumar Gallery at Art Heritage, New Delhi and at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1983), his work has been featured in many noteworthy group exhibitions like 'The Path of the Lotus: Indian Art', Grosvenor Gallery, London (2011); 'Natural Bodies, Subverted Canons', Vadehra Art Gallery (2011); 'Freedom to March: Rediscovering Gandhi through Dandi', presented by Ojas Art at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2010); '10 x 10', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi (2010); 'Paper Trails', Vadehra Art Gallery (2010); 'The Living Insignia', Gallery Ensign, New Delhi (2010); and 'Progressive to Altermodern: 62 Years of Indian Modern Art', Grosvenor Gallery, London (2009), among others.
Among the important honours and awards won by him are Padma Bhushan, Government of India (2005); Raja Ravi Verma Puraskar, Government of Kerala (2003); Manaviyam Award, Manaviyam Cultural Mission, Government of Kerala (2001); Gagan – Abani Puraskar, Visva Bharati University (2000); Parishad Sanman, Sahitya Kala Parishad, New Delhi (1991); Noma Award for Children’s Picture Book Illustration (1980, 1978): and National Award for Painting, New Delhi (1973,69).