13 x 43 inches, unframed
Handmade paper on red soil
About the artwork
Rawanth / Rumination is a process of masticating cud and absorbing, digesting, and dumping. Raw material is chewed to a cud and then broken down, separating the material into wanted and unwanted carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fat. Later, the undigested material goes out of the system like a dump. The dump is then used as a fertilizer and the process of raw material grows. A process of rumination is like an endless loop, with no beginning or end.
There is no element you can consider as waste in rural farming areas, more so in developing countries. The practice of ‘waste and non-waste’ is not so recent a thought. It has been in practice for ages and is being revisited today as ‘recycled’. Although discourses surrounding the disastrous environmental impact of ‘use and throw’ mentalities have been floating around for a few decades, recycling as a serious objective has come back to the cities relatively recently. This said, the practice of non-waste is not recycling, but a much broader practice of livelihood and sustainability.
Kumar reminisces that as the son of a farmer, he grew up helping his family till and harvest the land. Surrounded by agricultural practices of dealing with wanted and unwanted fibers, Kumar borrows from the same non-waste ideology to look at his own practice in art. Whether making paper or narrating stories of the farmers and moving people – it comes from his own experience. This makes Kumar a 'sutradhar' for farmers from the Kolhapur district.
For the past few decades, we have been witnessing the farmer’s crisis, a significant national discourse and catastrophe. Interestingly, at first glance it seems as if this has not been directly addressed in Kumar’s works, but as you walk through you see that this is not the case. He subtly takes you through a process in which you start looking beyond the surficial elements. The material and process start revealing themselves as the metaphor for the main discourse.
We can look at Kumar’s work as two parts of the same story or the story of a coin which has two sides – one is the material (the paper) he makes from the waste/non-waste, and the other is what he draws or prints on that paper. The latter is about the life cycle of the farmers as moving people and the story of their displacements. Rawanth / Rumination also means pondering, self-examination, reflection, introspection and concentration. An endless loop, no beginning, no end.
About the artist
My working analogy is based on the Farmer's Life; since I myself belong to the farming community and have witnessed the struggle that a farmer has to make to survive and to support his family. Looking at the famers issue and struggle in the past decade and the current situation, I realize the insensitivity of the society as well as the mindset that keeps the discriminations active, proving it to be harmful and a future which might loose the practice, knowledge and economy of the farming profession. My practice/journey is like an autobiography and I find myself responsible to react through my art as an artist to all these never-ending inhibitions.
I am born and brought up in the Kumbhoj region of Kolhapur District; where Sugarcane, corn and bananas are widely produced with favourable climate. My background is very much part of my work process and has a great inspiration behind its representation. Coming from a farming family, I prefer the process first and then its result, as I have witnessed the practice of agriculture: before eating food the grain needs to be sowed and nourished; similarly, I make the paper / surface for the print from the fibers of banana, corn and sugar extract and then create the image on the surface.
My practice is currently based using papermaking and printmaking process along with research and experimentation with material and content. I use specifically the woodcut medium for expressing the political, social, and environmental or the psychological effects we had and continuingly facing as a farmer's families. The migration and displacement of the community for many a reason - leads them to live a life in an urban sector just for survival - changes the whole eco system. We have been noticing the loss of the practice and its identity to be largely compromised.
While producing, many a times I am satisfied with the fact that the paper and the story I narrate are made from natural agricultural fertilizer and waste, Most of the time I take help from the community who are still believing in their practice and the process trying to keep the practice alive and sustainable. This process of interaction and many a times collaboration which keeps me connected to the roots and also helps me tell the story across like a sutradhar.