10 August 2023
ARUNKUMAR H G
“I do not call myself an environmentalist, but I am a student of the environment,” says the renowned sculptor Arunkumar H G.
ArunKumar H G, the renowned Sculptor studied BA and MA in Sculpture from M.S. University, Baroda, Gujarat.
“Studying at the Department of sculpture was the best thing to have happened to me as the Faculty of Fine Arts was at its peak with its great teachers just about to retire from their service. So, I got to learn from them directly, indirectly also, there was a great atmosphere for learning art. I was fortunate to have great teachers as Shri. Krishna Chhatpar, Shri. Raghav Kaneria, just to name a few. The library was good and it was great to have some new publications on young British sculptors which had Antony Gormley, Tony Cragg, along with our Indian origin sculptors Anish Kapoor and Dhruva Mistry, I really think they had an impact in my learning. Sculpture was special to me as it is an extended activity of other arts like painting etc. It’s also very intimate to one’s self,” says the renowned sculptor ArunKumar H G.
Arunkumar uses scrapps, wooden materials, toys, plastic, ceramics, TV monitors and waste materials for the sculptural works and conveys complex messages that raise public awareness on the haphazard disposal of mass-produced goods.
“Arun has simply too much to say to the viewer – there are his sculptural works; his documentary practice (photography, paper and magazine clippings, both internet and bibliographic research); his performative efforts of e.g. cultivation, growing crops etc; his experiments with edible materials (sugar, salt etc.) and so on and so forth,” Himanshu Desai, renowned curator has written elaborately about his Exhibition: TRACT, years back.
“CON-struction represents the culmination of Arunkumar H.G.’s sustained artistic investigation into the forces of global production, urban expansion and the ecological toll of unbridled material consumption. Informed by both environmental and economic changes he witnessed in his natal region of the Western Ghats and the developmental initiatives unfolding around him in the urban environs of Gurgaon, this body of work conveys a pressing need to embrace recuperative husbandry,” says Kathleen L Wyma, art historian and independent curator who specialises in modern and contemporary Indian art and photography.
The work included in this show emerges against the percussive sounds of urban expansion, the rhythms of increasing global temperatures and the rising tempo of changing weather patterns to actively foster palpable connections with the natural environment
“Arunkumar’s CON-struction visually explores what is at stake in the ecological disharmonies and blind spots that characterize the contemporary moment. Clearly there is no way to reverse the technologies of the present; however, we can become more aware of their implicit ecological cost. Writing in the early 1990s Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha observed, “…the country is living on borrowed time. It is eating, at an accelerated rate, into the capital stock of its renewable resources of soil, water, plant and animal life. Does this mean that we are headed for a disaster? Almost two decades have passed since the authors posed the question, but today it can no longer be taken as merely rhetorical. Arunkumar’s visual engagements indirectly answers this question to blend finely honed irony with real world pragmatism to offer meaningful and thoughtful insights into the high cost of living today. As such, the work included in this show emerges against the percussive sounds of urban expansion, the rhythms of increasing global temperatures and the rising tempo of changing weather patterns to actively foster palpable connections with the natural environment,” says Kathleen L Wyma.
“This new body of work called Con-struction comes after 8 years since my earlier body of work was called ‘TRACT’. Tract was more about production, consumption and disposal. Mainly, it raised questions between the urban and rural extremes. After having this show, I took time off to see if my questions were answered, or was it the way to find answers sitting cosily in the metro space. So finally I thought of moving away from the usual studio-based practice and spend more time on the ground where my farming family is situated in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It was important for me to spend more time there and get connected to the site or the ground which is the hotspot of many activities. Learning about how the whole cycle of environmental ecology is connected to the predominantly agrarian preoccupation of people living there and present condition etc. I have started rejuvenating the eroded piece of forest next to our family farm and started environment awareness programmes involving the local intellectuals, activists and other environment practitioners of the region. This activity has evolved to a much larger scale and a centre for Knowledge and Environment called SARA (Sustainable Alternative for Rural Accord) is taking place on my family farm itself. All these activities have really inspired me to come up with this body of works,” Arunkumar himself briefs about his works and shares about the sustainable rural development project, SARA, that he has initiated at the foothills of Western Ghats in Karnataka.
We often have knowledge about far-off things, but know nothing about the tree that is right in front of us. My family grows the food we need, so we are involved with its production processes and aware of environmental issues, which I earlier thought of as being separate from agriculture, but now I can see how they feed off each other
“I do not call myself an environmentalist, but I am a student of the environment. Practically speaking, one must have a basic understanding of where it all comes from or where it goes after our use — the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. We often have knowledge about far-off things, but know nothing about the tree that is right in front of us. My family grows the food we need, so we are involved with its production processes and aware of environmental issues, which I earlier thought of as being separate from agriculture, but now I can see how they feed off each other,” Arunkumar said.
He has founded SARA, a Community-driven farmer’s and artists’ initiative in his native village, Dombekoppa of the Shimoga district in Karnataka, as a platform for dialogue with artists, environmentalists, intellectuals, farmers, students and teachers to share and raise public awareness about sustainable living practices that specifically address the ecological concerns of the region.
Arunkumar’s various artworks, reflect his thoughtful insights that mark the conflict and the mutual dependency of man with nature, sometimes reminds the huge ecological, social crisis to be faced in the future.
Arunkumar has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in India and abroad including CON-struction, Gallery Espace, New Delhi 2018; Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018, Inflatable works, In-site, Aicon Gallery, New York 2018; Seed of Reckoning, Mumbai Art Room 2012; Tract, Nature Morte, New Delhi 2010; Feed, Nature Morte in New Delhi and Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai 2006; Embrace Our Rivers, Goethe-Institute, Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai 2018; Sculpture by the Sea, Sculpture Biennale Aarhus Denmark 2015; The Eye and The Mind: New Interventions in Contemporary Indian Art, China 2015; Beyond Limits at San Diego Art Institute 2014; Aesthetic Bind Citizen Artist: Forms of Address, Chemould, Mumbai 2013; Crossing Space, Kunsthalle Faust, Hannover 2013.