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.