Whenever hunger pangs come knocking, Chennai-based artist Kumaresan Selvaraj arms himself with two utensils and heads to his favourite food joints. He packs his food not in plastic containers but in the bowls he’s brought with him. It comes as no surprise then to see how this environmentally conscious artist finds delight in making his artworks with paper sourced from waste paper markets. Take for instance, his series Number of Layers on My Surface, where thousands of colourful papers stacked together, have been sliced into two large circular discs, much like two co-joined planets.
Selvaraj uses portions of invitation cards that are discarded, which end up in waste paper markets. It helps him buy paper cheap for his colourful sculptural artworks. Bearing satirical overtones through such simple forms and harnessing a unique visual vocabulary, over 30 works by Selvaraj find their way into the show titled “Lines of Sight”, at Delhi’s Exhibit 320 gallery. The title draws inspiration from his childhood memories. “From happy ones to not so happy ones, that are present in my conscious and subconscious mind, ” says 36-year-old Selvaraj.
In One Above the Other, two tall pillars, carved from wood, iron, brass and thousands of sheets of paper pasted together, reveal how important memory is for an individual, much like the foundation poles of a building. “Memories remind me of how I didn’t enjoy an activity in college, which I have grown fond of now. As a child, I didn’t want to go to school and mostly wanted to stay at home. On the contrary, I just want to keep roaming outside or travelling now, as compared to staying indoors. I can’t simply enjoy at home,” says Selvaraj, who is armed with a fine arts degree from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, and has held solos like “Visible-Invisible” at Gallery Veda, Chennai, in the past.
Containers has three rusted iron boxes pasted on another wall, with some parts open in one and some shut in another, to draw a comparison to our sensory organs. “There are times we shut certain senses, like the eyes if we do not wish to see something or the ears if we do not wish to hear, or even our mouth if one doesn’t wish to speak,” says Selvaraj.
An elaborate wall installation as part of his series Number of Layers on My Surface has clusters of paper, broken into fragments and pointing in a particular direction, in autumn hues of brown and yellow. Selvaraj hints at the direction everyone is heading towards, where the journey becomes more important than the final destination. “In our everyday life, we seem to be going towards a destination. We do not know about that place yet we are on our path. Human beings are travelling all the time.”
The exhibition is at F-320, Old MB Road, Lado Sarai, till September 12.