Senior Chennai artist K Shyam Kumar’s drawings and sculptures are on display after 15 years

K Shyam Kumar’s intricate dotted drawings, years in the making, are on display with his sculptures after 15 years

K Shyam Kumar’s drawings command the viewer’s undivided attention. Each painting is exquisitely detailed, a continuum of lines and dots that forge into forts, pyramid-like structures and humanesque faces. Part of a pen and ink series titled The Steps for Mukhti, the drawings are on show at an exhibition, My Planet, at the Varija Art Gallery in DakshinaChitra.

The show features 15 drawings and 25 sculptures in bronze and granite. These drawings, which are on layered and textured surfaces, are part of his works from the 2000s.

The Chennai-based artist and sculptor, who prefers to work in seclusion, has not had a solo show in 20 years. “I take at least four months to six on a painting,” he says, of his long-drawn out creative process. Shutting off from the noise of the world, Shyam often withdraws into his own, consumed by the work. “It all begins with the dot,” he says of the drawings, which contain thousands of dots each. “It demands utmost patience and for me, it is a meditative process.”

One of Shyam Kumar’s dotted drawings | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Shyam, who holds a post-graduate diploma in Sculpture from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, began his art practice as early as 1979. He says he is intrigued by the infinity of the cosmos, its darkness and the void.Critics regard his works a blend of mysticism, fantasy and science fiction. One of his earliest works, a terracotta sculpture that he made as a student, was an elongated figurine, resembling Steven Spielberg’s E.T, which drew mixed responses at the time.

A stone sculpture | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Though Shyam works with stone and bronze for his sculptures, terracotta is his enduring passion. He has just completed an eight-foot-tall terracotta sculpture at Dakshinachitra, which is waiting to be fired.

At the show, while the granite sculptures seem to be in a meditative trance, eyes closed, the bronze ones have their eyes open. “If you notice, none of the sculptures have ears,” says Shyam, adding they are representative of his own self in isolation, refusing to let in the clatter of the world.

On view till February 10 at DakshinaChitra Museum, Muttukadu.

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