BENGALURU:P Sampath Kumar explores folk life at the group exhibition Modernists of Bangalore at Art Houz. His figurative village scenes come across as harmonious compositions with vividly coloured landscapes.
Women wearing vibrant sarees are depicted engrossed in sweet conversations amidst their daily chores.
“We live in urban society and see many things. But there is another side to society — the rural. I wanted to document that,” says the Bengaluru-born artist.
Over the years, P S Kumar has developed a varied repertoire — paintings to prints, abstraction to representational.
He says he explores himself through his work, and every painting is an extension of another. He likes variation in his style. The works are sometimes realistic and sometimes abstract.
“People should not be able to recognise my work. They should look at it, and ask whose works they are,” he says.
He believes that an artist should not find a comfort zone or style as that can cramp the creativity in him. “I just do 10 to 15 canvases with the same style and then forget about it,” he adds.
The artist in his mid-seventies says he still becomes nervous whenever he stands in front of the canvas.
He describes his creative process: “It is like a fight or a transformation. It is not possible to paint at a stretch. It might not come out the way I want it to the first time. After 15 days, I might work on it again.”
Sampath Kumar carried his mother’s passion forward. He says, “Back then, it wasn't easy for women to work. There was not much exposure. So, she encouraged me to pursue art.”
Most people who heard her son was doing art were perplexed. “They wondered how one could survive on arts,” he says. “Their reaction disappointed her.”
So he studied history, economics and sociology, so that his mother could proudly say her son was a graduate.
He also completed a diploma in painting from Ken School of Art, under the guidance of eminent artist R M Hadapad, who passed away recently. Sampath has documented a few of his mentor’s works, those of graphic artist Chandrashekar and South Indian sculptors.
He says he has been influenced by his mentor’s thinking process.
“Usually, when you are being trained by a single teacher, there are chances of him influencing your work. But Hadapad never allowed us to be influenced by his work. He allowed us to play around with our own style. He gave us directions, and taught us how an artist should be a part of the society by observing it and moving along with it,” he recalls.
An artist should take elements from society and depict them with insight, his mentor would say. An artist, according to Sampath, does not think of the basic needs like food and shelter.
“He thinks outside this pattern, how he can give back to the society,” he says.
Sampath has held many group shows — at Jahangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; Mumbai Kala Yatra, Hyderabad; and Mysore Art Council. He has also designed murals, including one for the Southern Railways in Chitradurga. As the chief artist for a Kannada publication, P S Kumar has illustrated for major books, magazines, and other media publications.