HOLY COW! – Natasha Kumar

Exhibition runs: 9th – 23rd Aug 2013
Drinks: 15th Aug 6 – 9pm
Location: Gallery & Project space

In ‘Holy Cow ’ Kumar has taken up the bold, flourescent colours of Indian advertising art in its various forms to cut through the picturesque, giving a sharp contemporary twist to traditional Indian motifs. The sacred Hindu bovine competes for attention with a brazen wall advert, oblivious to it.

Natasha Kumar, an established British-Indian artist, unveils her latest solo exhibition ‘HOLY COW!’ The show will run from the 9th – 23rd August in the Gallery at Great Western Studios, that extraordinary nexus of all things cultural, just off Westbourne Park, W2. ‘Vivid, colour – saturated images of contemporary India. A delight, with ordinary humanity right at the forefront. Not a Taj Mahal in sight. Wonderful.’ Says Christopher Hart, novelist and critic.

‘Blow Horn’ is the imperious advice given to overtaking drivers in India painted on the back-end of lorries and buses. Both a warning and an encouragement delivered in a glorious rococo signage of swirling colour and curlicues, the words are just one example of a culture that considers every flat surface a potential canvas. In India, if it stays still long enough for someone to paint on it, it will be, with a graffiti of spiritual texts, folk art, and underwear ads. It’s the art of the everyday, of India as she is lived.

It’s this world, a visual cacophony of signs and life, that Natasha Kumar explores in her work. But the exhibition title is appropriate in another more personal way. Second generation British-Indians will recognise the journey she is making through her award-winning figurative art. ‘She is one us,’ says Sangita Myska, the BBC broadcaster. ‘Fascinated by the country our parents left behind, we return, again and again, to seek a more rounded sense of ourselves. … Natasha’s work evokes with deep love what is embedded in our souls.’

The works of ‘HOLY COW!’ take us from city to village, soaking up the bold design and colours of street art, to cut through our preconceived notions of picturesque India. Iconic images are given a sharp, acutely observed, contemporary twist. To paraphrase John O’Farrell, author and broadcaster, Natasha Kumar’s work captures the collision between Indian tradition and modern Indian consumerism.

So, in ‘Coca-doodle-do’ a proud village rooster scratches a living below that ubiquitous cursive emblem of the American (or Slum Dog) dream, a Coca-Cola sign. In Holy Cow, confident of its own elevated cultural status, the sacred bovine ambles blithely past the brazen charms of a street ad. A timeless view of Indian village life in Tuff Cemento – a woman swathed in a sari, waiting patiently for who knows what, becomes a 21st century moment in a powerful, growing economy. Not even the gaudy colours of the sari can compete with the strident green of the cement company’s message.


holy cow Natasha Kumar

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9 August 2013