A native of Delhi, India where he studied printmaking and painting at the College of Art; Shaurya Kumar graduated with his MFA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2007. Since 2001, Kumar has been involved in numerous prestigious research projects, like “The Paintings of India” (a series of 26 documentary films on the painting tradition of India); "Handmade in India" (an encyclopedia on the handicraft traditions of India); and digital restorations of 6th century Buddhist mural paintings from the caves of Ajanta.
Kumar's work has exhibited widely across the US and in countries including India, Taiwan, China, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, U.K., Norway, France, Australia and Finland among many others. His works have been installed at venues including the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly Victoria & Albert Museum, Mumbai); Gallery Odyssey, Mumbai; Sundaram Tagore gallery, NYC; Queens Museum, NYC; Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul; Lakeeren Gallery, Mumbai; Artifact Gallery, NYC; LACDA, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia; Schneider Museum of Art, Oregon; Charleston Heights Art Center, Las Vegas; TamTam Gallery, Taiwan; Guanlan Printmaking Base, China; UNM Art Museum, Albuquerque; SCA Contemporary, Albuquerque; NIU Art Museum, Illinois and Kriti Gallery, Varanasi among many others. Kumar’s work has also featured in international art fairs including India Art Fair, Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Dubai Art Fair and Poznan Art Week. Shaurya Kumar currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. He is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chair of the Department of Printmedia.
About the Artist
“…[I]n the Hindu understanding, the deity is present in the image, the visual apprehension of the image is charged with religious meaning. Beholding the image is an act of worship, and through the eyes one gains the blessings of the divine.”1 The act of touching and gazing, the tactical and visual engagement between the Hindu devotee and the divine is critical for religious and spiritual realization. Manifestation thus leads to the latent and each is incomplete without the other, if not entirely meaningless.
So, what happens after the temple walls have crumbled, the columns have been carted off to distant sites, and the tombs have been emptied? What happens, in other words, after the material form is dissipated; the cultural artifact has vanished without a trace or has been transposed to a white cube museum or a mantle of a private collector? What happens to the devotee when the idol, the divine, is looted and the temple is left in ruination? How does a culture that has for generations share the thought, feeling and sensation through the act of vision, the religious seeing or Darsan deal with the loss? Is the memory of the object, or even the documentation “sufficient in representing those histories where there is no evidence [of the original context] remaining – no longer a thread of continuity, a plenum of meaning or monumental history – but rather a fracture, a discontinuity, the mark of which is obliteration, erasure, and amnesia?”
Shaurya Kumar is an artist of recollection who immerses himself in history and imagery of memory and time; who works in shadows of memory and pulls up fallen and forgotten objects, even if temporarily. He is an avid collector of memories and an observer of frameworks. His work addresses the world of objects and non-objects and questions the role of individuals and institutions that assign them their new meaning. Reacting to the philosophy of collection, his work looks through objects, within and beyond, and questions , not their physical form but the purpose they serve; it probes subject-object relationship in a particular time and context.
His work discusses the modern ruin - removed from its place in history and memory, and its relation to modernity and urbanization. It will also reflect on the role of military and militia where specific objects are targeted and destroyed when the new regime is against the philosophy of the work. Lastly, his talk will investigate the role that individuals and institutions play to create and alter a collective experience and memory.