By JohnyML : Independent Curator and Art Critic. Shape Shifting in the Flat World: The Art of Mahesh Kummar Self taught in the beginning, formally educated in fine arts at a later stage, Mahesh Kummar of Bangalore has a long innings in a career as an artist. Started off as a super realistic painter depicting all what is romantically beautiful in life, Mahesh Kummar used his gifts as a proficient graphic artist and a fantastic colorist in the initial stages of his artistic career. Ethereal colors, dream dripping scenes, captivating moods and various facets of nature and people made his earlier works attractive to the clients from all over the world and this body of works adorns many a collector’s homes. However, the artistic journey of Mahesh Kummar does not seem to have found its fulfillment or destination in creating a ‘thing of beauty which could become joy forever’ not only for the artist but also for the art collectors. A search for a new artistic idiom took him to the innards of the socio-cultural and political life of our country, which he soon found to be fragmented and segmented beyond comprehension. The apparent reality that looks logical enough to be lived and enjoyed, as far as Mahesh Kummar is concerned, is kaleidoscopic, prone to shift shape and focus at even a touch of a simple social tremor. The artist finds, in his works as well as in his inner world of philosophical understanding, that the lives that people believe to be living are a colorful illusion and they do nothing but negotiate the dreamlike scenarios. Dreamlike scenario doesn't just mean that life is alluring and enthralling. On the contrary, the overt attractions could just be traps, splintered and distorted. Mahesh Kummar paints this reality, which is not apparent to ordinary eyes. This perspective clarity and the ability to look beyond the immediate, help the artist to create a world of jugglers and vaudevillian entertainment. He uses a varied spectrum of color and motley presentation of characters so that the intended reality could be conveyed with effect. Mahesh Kummar’s world is so full of ambiguities, tensions and forebodings that it manifests as a large theatre of characters culled from a variety of tragedies, comedies and farces. The prismatic illusions rendered by the artist make his works optical and surrealistic at the same time. The floating elements in the works impart the abstract quality of Paul Klee, in the meanwhile the figurative ensemble gives away the feeling of witnessing the surreal pieces of Giorgio De Chirico. Bridget Riley could be one of the artists who come to our mind when we witness the optical variety of Mahesh Kummar’s works. But his works have an Indian color palette and ethos that have now earned the ability to reflect global realities and the global life which has been in a flux beyond conclusion and full of retribution. Mahesh Kummar is a master artist who could enter the master class sooner than later. The World is Flat, said Thomas L Friedman, reminding the world of the contemporary economic and political realities of homogenization. Mahesh Kummar’s artistic world is flat in that sense. However, there is no forced homogeneity in his works. But his works forewarn the onlookers, how homogenization could establish flattened life and they remind the art lovers of the need for an internal life, which is colorful, quirky and critical all at once. Mahesh Kummar’s search for the ideal and the eventual goes on and perhaps, as in the case of any other great artist that history has produced, he too finds it not in the final but in the process towards it, which definitely is not the last one but one in the millions that are yet to be manifested through the works of artists like Mahesh Kummar and many more.
Mahesh's ArtPrize Entries
These are Mahesh's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.