Textures and Styles in S Kumar's Works

Artist S. Kumar (1980) started his journey in the Arts at a very young age because he came from a family of artists who concentrated on the making of temple art in Tamil Nadu. His grandfather, especially, influenced him in his skills. His initial training also centered around his family's professional expertise and experiences. During his graduation, he decided to travel to Bangalore to try out his skills in making banner art for films. He made a few banners for a film by Sanjeev Rao, where he created a large God figure as a thematic focus of the film. The banner received several critical appreciation and, because of its large size, it drew a lot of public attention. His father, who was teaching at the Government College of Fine Arts at the time, found his skills worth honing and he further enhanced his son's education. Eventually, Kumar pursued and received a Master's degree in the Fine Arts from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai. That gave him the impetus to make more God figures and he began to push his skills and techniques to develop his own art language. Then, he went on to pursue a PhD in Fine Arts from Government College of Fine Arts, Kumbakonam.

Ganesha's form, particularly, interested him. He made several artworks framing the form in bright hues and sharp lines, which were further detailed in descriptive designs echoing the glamour of the temple art techniques. Then these figures began to be placed as concentrated compositions based on the artist's reflections of the negative space and the positive space while also inclined towards an iconographic narrative. By the time he began to show his artworks to his audiences in 1997, he had already established his skills and techniques in his own art language.

Kumar's art catered to a more nuanced aesthetic of the contemporary art practices, where the traditional God figures played a vital role in exploring the modern-day narrative on spirituality and spiritualism. He also merges his style with the Fresco style which deliberates effects and details to his work and brings out a very cheerful and bright engagement with his icons. Again, his recent collection of cityscapes draws an interesting engagement with structure and space, where he creates a close visual impact of buildings staged in a row, haphazardly performing the role of a giant with several eyes. These oil or acrylic on canvases are a special response to India's Modernist artist F. N. Souza. These paintings also respond to the idea of a large landscape, where land has become an overgrown complex of brick and cement homes overlooking a probable gaping valley from where the image may have been conceived.

Kumar's composition toys with the richness of shadows and lights. He brings out the shadows as a means to explore the possibility of an alien world buried in the making of a city space. The city is not merely a sight. It is a busy space, constantly exploding into its own vacuous structures. These homes are lit from inside and hovering over each other's structure. They might even come across as possible reflections on how the city devoids space to structure even though these structures occupy space.

Bold lines have always been very important to Kumar's works. They have either played out an important emphasis on form occupying space or it has become a means to look at shadows. Creating textures also is an important part of his works. Almost all his works have this coarse texture on top made of scraped patches of paint brushed on top of layers of paint with a roller brush. Interestingly, these gradient textures aid to build a textural narrative of how one moves between time and space, developing a dreamlike quality intrigued by the chaos constructed through the idea of a global village. Kumar envisions this globular interaction as a means to connect the world through his art language, where he captures the layered visualisation of his real world.

The artist has been mainly working between Delhi, Dubai, and Singapore. Despite having had a long list of group shows around India, Dubai, and Singapore, he has only had one large solo display of his works. Now, he intends to showcase his artworks more often, where he would also like to display his sculptures that are quite elaborate and stylised. He is quite attracted to the idea of working with stones as it helps him broaden his primary skills of temple art. Given his interest in making art to explore his skills and techniques, Kumar's expedition in the Arts remains to be seen at length and in depths, where one can be certain that they would whisper through the traditions to the imaginations of the immediate world.

– Dr. Satarupa Bhattacharya