AnilKumar: Circles of Life – Koi Series at Old Brompton Gallery

AnilKumar: Circles of Life – Koi Series at Old Brompton Gallery

London-based Indian painter AnilKumar’s first solo exhibition, Circles of Life: Koi Series, on this weekend at Old Brompton Gallery, takes on the great task of finding meaning in the patterns that shape life as a force of energy. These energies are shaped by internal will and external factors that construct, deconstruct and reconstruct identities through which we understand ourselves.

The collection begins with the stoic sensibility which posits struggle as integral to birth, whereby the ultimate beginning is enshrouded in chaos, confusion, and the unknown. However, The Three Koi (2019) in circular motion depicts triumph over the struggle, and we progress to the realm of infantile playfulness in The Moving Maneki (2019), where through the simple act of laughter, the entire body exudes vibrancy and positivity.

Reminiscent of Joseph Campbell’s A Hero’s Journey, AnilKumar’s Koi Series explores the concept of life as a journey towards spiritual ascendance. The grounds that the artist has identified as significant points in the circle of life, including birth, adolescence, love, aspiration and attainment, connect on a spiritual plane through the realisation of which growth is measured. With this in mind, Soul Food (2019), which features a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup against a background of bright yellows and crimson reds, reminds spectators that the body comprises the spiritual as well as the physical, and so care and attention should be given to both. The thick-layered golds alongside bright reds and yellows recollect the artist’s South Asian roots, adding another dimension to his exploration of the spiritual journey as a shared belief system across peoples, space and time.

The Arowana and the Bamboo (2019) reflects on the belief that upon reaching a threshold, growth takes on a remarkable pace, and like the bamboo, whose growth has no limit, the koi fish – which travels always upstream, pushing against the currents – transcends to a dragon by the gift of the gods. The final piece of the exhibition, the highest point of the journey, is The Guardian (2019), whose half-half construction embodies transcendence and hence triumph via the binaries and strict definitions that seek to give meaning to life, from its nascent struggle onwards. AnilKumar’s Koi Series is exciting and offers plenty of room for thought. The highlights of the exhibition are Yang (2019), the aforementioned The Three Koi (2019) and Soul Food (2019).


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