“At first my observations took an abstract and generalizing turn. I looked at the passengers in masses, and thought of them in their aggregate relations. Soon, however, I descended to details, and regarded with minute interest the innumerable varieties of figure, dress, air, gait, visage, and expression of countenance.” – says the narrator in the short story ‘The Man of the Crowd’ by Edgar Allan Poe while observing people in the city of London.
The name and the thought for Indian visual artist Sameer Kulavoor’s upcoming solo exhibition ‘A Man of the Crowd’ arrived from this story. Mumbai based TARQ gallery would be hosting this exhibition from 15th March to 26th April. This is Sameer’s second solo show. His first, ‘Please Have A Seat’, was hosted by Artisans gallery in Mumbai.
Sameer is well-known for his unique depiction and perspective of urban spaces. The profile our editor wrote about him for Paper Planes in 2015 mentions that his works often fiercely cut through the bones of urban India to capture its soul. His self-initiated projects “are keenly observed minutiae about the makeshift and inventive side of urban India, peppered with personal notes and bursting with raw energy”.
In the context of the current exhibition, a press release issued by the gallery states, “For this body of work, created over the span of a year, Kulavoor took a step further away from his regular practice as a graphic artist and illustrator, choosing instead, to embrace paint on canvas. He also created a series of terracotta figurines that serve as three dimensional extensions of the paintings.”
It further adds, “The flat, graphic, gray, surfaces of Kulavoor’s canvases come alive with faceless human figures, rendered in contrasting, eye-popping fluorescent hues. These characters appear to be ubiquitous yet carry fascinating personal narratives. These delightful compositions of contemporary archetypes, from the genial “aunty” to the urban hipster, underscore Kulavoor’s fondness for and celebration of cities and their multi-layered identities.”