By Anjana Nagabhushana | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 30, 2022
Mumbai-based artist and photographer, Anitha Sunil Kumar, has plenty of reason to smile. Some of her best work is currently on display at Jehangir Art Gallery that’s aptly titled The Symphony of Colours. Apt because Anitha is an artist whose understanding and relationship with colours runs deep. The exhibition which was inaugurated by Prabhat Chandra Jha, DIGP, CRPF, Navi Mumbai, and Mrs. Padmaja Jha on December 28, will be on till January 3, 2023.
A grounded personality despite her achievements, Anitha Sunil Kumar, who has completed the Film Making course from Whistling Woods, is now working on her next initiative—short films. “I am also working on the next painting series, centered around the abstract representation of the human ego in contrast to the vastness of nature. Through this, I hope to highlight the need for more humility and empathy in this world, which we can learn from the natural creations of the Almighty,” she reveals.
Opening Doorz caught up with the multifaceted personality for a chat. She spoke about her current exhibition, her passion for art and her future projects.
Tell us about Symphony of Colours. When did you start working on it? How did the theme come to you?
The seed for Symphony of Colours, you could say, was sown during the pandemic when the world came to a standstill. But more than a standstill, I think I was more affected by the grief and suffering that everyone was going through. It was a period of learning for me. I realised how we are held together by the tiny moments; how those tiny moments bring colour to life, and how we are in this together.
With The Symphony of Colours, I set out to capture moments that dot the vibrant canvas that I believe is ‘life’. As an avid traveller, photographer, and artist, my passion has always been to capture ethereal moments. Metaphorically speaking, these moments pertain to individual journeys, sentiments, emotions, and situations of people and experiences. I hoped to showcase a spectrum of experiences—from the colours and fragrances of nature to people from various walks of life to the emotions embedded in the human experience.
How did you get started in the field of art?
I would say that art and I go back a long way. I began dabbling in art and its various facets at a very young age. I was heavily inspired by my mother, who was incredibly creative and engaged in various artistic pursuits. Using the mundane walls around her as her canvas, she transformed barren walls and clothes, and other regular items into art. I must also remember my beloved father whose moral and emotional support helped me get through the most challenging of times.
After several years of gathering ideas and capturing mental images of various moments, my first watercolour exhibition came about in the year 2013. Almost as a natural progression, my being an avid traveller and history enthusiast pushed me to explore art through historical captures. This led to a passion for photography. Now, all of these experiences have culminated in my very first photography exhibition. I hope to expand and express my thoughts in the future using photography.
Where did you debut? How old were you then and what was the experience like?
My debut exhibition was a group art exhibition hosted by the renowned multifaceted artist, A V Dhanushkodi in the year 2010. It was a milestone in my life as I received my first Art award—Indradhanush Award: Outstanding Award for Drawing and Painting, at this exhibition. The moment was quite surreal. It was a dream come true.
My solo exhibition, ‘Timeless Memories’, was held in the year 2013 and revolved around the historical captures and watercolour interpretations of the ancient sites of Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal (Karnataka), Leh (Ladakh), and forts around Tamil Nadu.
What are the major themes you have explored through your work so far?
When speaking strictly about painting, I have predominantly worked with historical locations. I have always found India’s rich history to be a treasure chest. Through my paintings, I hoped to capture our nation’s diverse culture. Historical sites locked in time left to an artist’s respectful interpretation are an avenue that I greatly enjoy engaging in.
While history is certainly a part of my photography too, for this exhibition, I have certainly gone beyond history. In my journey as a photographer, I have tried to capture things, people, and moments as precious vignettes that cannot be recreated.
Why the affinity to watercolours? What do water colours offer that other mediums do not?
I believe that watercolour is a delicate medium that has enabled me to convey nuances and complexities that accentuate the essence of a painting. Watercolour is a graceful, layered medium that lets an artist play with various interpretations and subtleties. I found myself being able to bring an art piece to life more efficiently through this medium, through a duality of control in technique, and free-flowing emotion. Watercolour directs you; you cannot control it.
Any personal favourites from your work?
Talking about my works that are part of this photography exhibition, my personal favourite is the piece titled ‘Introspection’. I believe introspection is a vital part of the human journey. It enables people to reflect, reminisce, reform, and head down their paths as better versions of themselves. This photograph leaves the viewer interpreting it in his or her way.
And the favourites among your contemporaries, and the greats?
In the watercolour medium, I am in awe of the works of Rajkumar Sthabathy. Once again, by showcasing people from various walks of life, he captures the human journey in detail. Of the artistic giants who made the Golden Ages, my absolute favourite is Raja Ravi Varma. He captured ethereal beauty in daily life and demonstrated skill and an ability to bring emotion into his work. His work captured daily people and their moments with a flair and extravagance that I greatly enjoy.
Finally, what would your advice be to aspiring artists?
I believe art is all about individual creative flow. While it certainly is an asset to attain mastery of theoretical art and practical techniques under experienced artists and mentors, identifying and following one’s vision is of immense importance. In a world where people blindly follow norms, I believe art is one of the few avenues that enable a human being to be brave and expressive. The most complex and intricate of experiences can be expressed. While I do encourage artists to seek inspiration, it is always important to understand and build on your style.
As for setting up a routine, every artist works at a different creative and physical pace, so I push budding artists to follow the routine that best fits their rhythm.