> A Man of the Crowd

A Man of the Crowd

Sameer Kulavoor

15 March - 26 April, 2018

A Man of the Crowd is Sameer Kulavoor’s first solo exhibition at TARQ. The show, which gets its title from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, consists of a body of work that underscores the artist’s broad practice which brings together art and design. Kulavoor’s unique observations of urban spaces – a landscape he is intimately familiar with – and his depictions of the diverse characters that inhabit these spaces, define the visual vocabulary of this show. For this body of work, created over the span of a year, Kulavoor took a step 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. While the contemporary work of Sudhir Patwardhan and the more traditional compositional strategies of Mughal miniatures served as reference points, this series is a definitive testament to Kulavoor’s sensitive observation of the idiosyncrasies of a metropolis and the myriad characters that inhabit it. 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.  

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Sameer Kulavoor

Sameer Kulavoor (b.1983) is a visual artist living and working in Mumbai, India. His work lies at the intersection of art, graphic design & contemporary illustration and has taken the form of paintings, murals, books, zines, prints and objects. He is interested in why things look the way they do; constantly exploring and understanding the impact that time, culture, politics and socio-economic conditions have on our visible and invisible surroundings. In this age of visual overload, his work involves filtering, dissecting, documenting and de-familiarizing commonly seen subjects through the act of drawing, painting and design. Some of the zines he has produced include Sidewalks & Coffeeshops (2009), Zeroxwallah Zine (2011), The Ghoda Cycle Project (poster-book, 2012), Blued (book/zine, 2013) and Oh Flip (flipbooks, 2013). He exhibited The Ghoda Cycle Project at WDC Helsinki in 2012 and in Mumbai in 2013 while also collaborating with Paul Smith on a series of Ghoda Cycle Tee-shirt designs which were released worldwide. He presented select sketchbook drawings from between 2012 and 2016 as large serigraphs at Artisans', Kalaghoda, in a show titled 'Please Have A Seat' (2016). He has been working on a number of large scale public art projects and paintings which are on view in Auckland (New Zealand), Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Chennai. ‘A Man of the Crowd’ (2018) was Kulavoor’s first solo presentation at TARQ. His work, 'This is Not Still Life' was showcased at the Tarq Booth C03 at India Art Fair in Delhi (2020). In 2019, two of his works were showcased at the TARQ booth group show at India Art Fair. Also, his drawings and paintings were part of ‘The Shifting City’ - Mumbai pavilion of ‘Making Heimat - Arrival City’ at the Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan curated by Kaiwan Mehta in 2019. Most recently, Sameer had his second solo exhibition, 'YOU ARE ALL CAUGHT UP at TARQ (2020). Kulavoor was the founder of Bombay Duck Designs which is presently directed by graphic artist + urdu/arabic typography specialist, Zeenat Kulavoor. Along with artist/designer Lokesh Karekar (Locopopo), Kulavoor also founded and curated six issues of 100%ZINE (currently on hiatus) – a visual arts magazine that discovers and showcases a wide range of visual art talent from India and abroad.


  • A metropolis of many narratives

    At first glance, the sands of Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach on a summer evening appear to be the large canvas. A man clad in a vest and lungi strides into the frame. Three women in casually draped saris are deep in animated conversation. A boy plays cricket with a cardboard carton for wickets. The wind carries with it sheets of paper gone rogue.

    The Hindu
    29 Apr 2018
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  • CQ Interviews: Sameer Kulavoor’s “A Man of the Crowd” spotlights the heart of a city – its people

    It is easy to get lost in the exhibition “A Man of the Crowd” by Sameer Kulavoor. His produced world has done away with architecture, signals or landmarks while prioritising everyday people. Each character seems familiar and expresses a sense of motion almost like they have a destination in mind. The more you look the more you see with this series.

    Colour Quotient, Asian Paints
    25 Apr 2018
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  • “A Man of the Crowd”: Indian graphic artist Sameer Kulavoor – in conversation

    The Indian artist brings together art and design to present his unique observations of both the urban spaces that he is familiar with in Mumbai and the characters that inhabit them.

    Art Radar
    22 Apr 2018
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  • Pieces of an everyday puzzle

    What characterises a metropolis? Is it the burgeoning skyline that’s looming over us everyday, the red traffic signals that are going unnoticed? Or is it the movement of the throngs, navigating themselves through spaces in unison. What’s binding them all, in a day packed with different agendas.

    The Hindu
    06 Apr 2018
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  • Sameer Kulavoor’s Latest Exhibition Explores The Many Faces Of Urban Life

    Every person has a story and in a city like Mumbai there are millions of tales, some waiting to be read out loud and others are hidden away behind coy smiles and dramatic eyes. Sometimes when words fail, art stands up, paving the way for emotions and experiences that words could never do justice too. Giving life to grey canvases with faceless human figures rendered in fluorescent hues, ‘The Man of the Crowd’ celebrates cities and its layered identities with a fascinating tale to tell.

    26 Mar 2018
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  • What You Get With Sameer Kulavoor’s Paintings

    In his debut solo exhibition of paintings, Sameer Kulavoor stays true to his concerns as he people-watches Mumbai

    25 Mar 2018
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  • Artist Sameer Kulavoor’s Mumbai exhibition celebrates the chaos of urban living

    2017 was a busy year for visual artist and illustrator Sameer Kulavoor. He travelled across India and to cities like Copenhagen, Berlin, Bangkok, Stockholm, New York, Hanoi, Las Vegas and Ho Chi Minh. He carried along his travel journal where he made sketches and recorded observations. “Every metropolis feels familiar in some ways because we are trained to deal with it — similar problems, similar multiplicity, similar juxtapositions of contrasting elements, people and scale,” recalls Kulavoor.

    The Hindustan Times
    24 Mar 2018
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  • City tales

    Tons of thousands of people go about the daily rigmarole of their lives in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai. Each of them carries a unique story within them and is striving to win his or her battles. This forms the basis of graphic designer, illustrator and artist Sameer Kulavoor’s solo exhibition, A Man of the Crowd, which is currently on display at TARQ, an art gallery in Colaba.​.

    24 Mar 2018
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  • Minimalist, whimsical: Meet Sameer Kulavoor, the artist

    Sameer Kulavoor, Mumbai-based graphic designer, illustrator and founder of Bombay Duck Designs, is known for his minimalist style and whimsical illustrations.

    Hindustan Times
    19 Mar 2018
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  • A Man Of The Crowd — Sameer Kulavoor

    A Man of the Crowd, artist and designer Sameer Kulavoor’s first solo exhibition at TARQ Gallery, of original paintings and sculptures, opened this March. We explored the landscapes and characters with Sameer, who indulged us in an in-depth interview about the series

    Design Fabric
    15 Mar 2018
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  • TARQ hosts Sameer Kulavoor’s exhibition, A Man of the Crowd

    Sameer Kulavoor, founder of Bombay Duck Designs, brings his contemplations on what characterises ‘the urban’ to a new exhibition, A Man of the Crowd, which opens March 15 at TARQ art gallery, Mumbai. The title is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Man of the Crowd, and much like Poe’s unnamed narrator who observes the urban throng, Kulavoor renders his subjects with just that touch of lightness against the backdrop of the big city in literal and metaphoric shades of grey.

    Architectural Digest
    14 Mar 2018
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  • Exhibition: Sameer Kulavoor’s ‘A Man of the Crowd

    “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 Floating Magazine
    08 Mar 2018
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