Everyday East

In India, every flat surface is considered a potential canvas. If something stays still long enough, someone will paint it, says artist Natasha Kumar. From graffiti, spiritual texts, folk art or underwear ads, it’s the art of the everyday.

’India as she is lived, not the romanticised vision of the exotic East,’ says Kumar. She renders her vision of India in colourful, figurative tableaux.

In Coca-Doodle-Do, a proud village rooster scratches below that ubiquitous cursive emblem of the American dream, a Coca-Cola sign, while Tuff Cemento shows a woman crouching in a yellow sari in front of a lurid green sign.

’I realised it was just a backdrop to her everyday existence,’ says Kumar. ’Next to the strident green of the cement company’s message, the woman becomes for me a 21st century moment in a powerful, growing economy.’

In a new exhibition, Blow Horn: Signs and Life in India, at London’s Asia House, Kumar presents her work, which encompasses silk-screen prints, etching and oil on paper. It is not about political criticism. ’India is strong enough to develop in its own way,’ explains Kumar.

’Professor Yogendra Singh wrote, “There’s nothing new in cultural penetration and India has always absorbed what has come from the outside and remained absolutely Indian”.

I agree wholeheartedly. India seems to absorb, use and reject. The presence of a lurid green wall in a rural village is not a threat.’

Blow Horn: Signs and Life in India runs from 4-17 March at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1

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