Hyderabad artist creates stunning portraits using human blood as a medium

Anil Kumar, an artist from Hyderabad, innovatively utilizes human blood in his artworks, ensuring meticulous hygiene and safety measures throughout the process.
Portrait made out of blood.
Portrait made out of blood.File Photo

HYDERABAD : Art is all about perspectives, and these perspectives perfectly align with spectators when the mediums are right. While some create magic with acrylic on canvas, others use more sustainable materials such as clay to craft sculptures. In the end, it all comes down to the artist’s choice of medium. Similarly, K Anil Kumar, a Hyderabad-based artist, uses blood for his art. It sounds wild surprisingly, but his artworks are both expressive and vivid.

Though blood art sounds unique and irksome at the same time, the process involves many risks and stringent hygiene steps to complete each piece. Anil Kumar states that taking necessary precautions, such as wearing gloves and a mask, is mandatory since he would be the first person affected if something went wrong. When asked why he chose blood art despite the risks, he said, “I believe blood painting is created with deep affection, imparting emotions that no other art form can convey. I support blood art as a powerful representation of love — whether it be for family, friends, or other cherished relationships.”

Delving into the process of blood art, Anil Kumar explains that every step, from collecting blood to hanging the artwork on the wall, is carried out with strict hygiene. Orders are received through calls or messages, where customers share a portrait and provide a small tube of blood (approximately 3 to 4 ml), extracted by experienced lab technicians and couriered in iceboxes. “Working with blood is akin to working with any other medium,” says Anil Kumar. He completes the portraits in one day and uses a fixative spray to preserve the artwork, preventing it from stinking or absorbing moisture. Finally, the painting is set in a glass frame.

Anil Kumar, an artist from Hyderabad.
Anil Kumar, an artist from Hyderabad.File Photo

Coming from a lower middle-class family, 24-year-old Anil Kumar was always involved in extracurricular activities since his B Tech days. His artistic journey began during his first year of B Tech in 2019. “I used to sketch a lot of faces in the evening after my college. Within a year, I mastered the art of portraits (pencil sketching). Then, I started carving names on pencils (micro art). From my second year, I began taking orders for face drawings and micro art,” he shares.

To promote his art, he met celebrities and gifted them small artworks, and he even put up stalls at exhibitions. However, nothing seemed to work for him, and he had to shut down his studio within four months of opening it in 2022. He then left everything and ventured into online marketing. In an unexpected turn, he ended up making blood art. “One person approached me and asked about blood art. I thought I couldn’t do it because I had taken a long break from art. But under his encouragement, I created my first blood art piece — a girl’s eyes. I posted it on my Instagram account, and the video reached many. Everyone started appreciating it and inquiring about blood artwork. I then took an order for a portrait done with blood, which came out so realistic and perfect. That’s when I decided I could make blood paintings. Later, one day, I used my blood to paint a portrait of my parents as a gift for their anniversary. I posted that video on my Instagram account, and it went viral, reaching 2.2 million views and counting. That single video changed my entire life. Thousands of people started messaging me for blood paintings of their loved ones. This marked the rise of my art journey.”

He says this medium connects him with his followers. Sharing one of his recent experiences, he said, “Recently, one person contacted me saying that his daughter had passed away one month after her birth. He wanted her photo as a painting made with his blood. I agreed to create the art for him. This kind of deep affection and emotional connection is what blood art can convey.”

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