The most striking aspect about Sunil Kumar’s works is that his exploration is rarely one dimensional. Most of his works are about his urban experiences, consumerism and the ecological imbalances such activities generate. But in each set of works, he uses a new visual strategy to address the issues at hand. A constant theme in his works is movement. Here the moving line becomes a metaphor for the actual movement undertaken. Interestingly, these gestural marks are made on the train tickets he has collected from his journeys. There are other works which monumentalise the day-to-day objects like plates and cups cast in cement ending up as minimalist sculptural forms which remind one of aerial views of cities or power plants. The linear gestural markings, which also look like cryptic maps, are sometimes done on wooden cubes that rotate on their axis or hang upside down, defying gravity.
Force fields is another theme that Sunil pursues in some of his works where energy seems to burst out from an imaginary centre or axis. While some works use torn paper to create this impression, others use magnetic fields to shape the images with the help of rusting iron filings which mark or stain the paper, recording the directional forces. In a few other works, dripping paint on circular canvases brings this sense of energy flow.
The works created using coal sticks or coal powder refer to the inner layers of earth damaged by human agency. But the forms look like excavated archaeological sites covered in coal dust. Along with these, there are jars that bring together many of his concerns in one place. In these jars, there are lines, map-making and traces of residual activity. These are kept in these jars like samples are preserved in a lab or a museum, freezing our anthropocene time and its activity when humankind did not get along with nature.
Sunil Kumar hails from Kanyakumari, and completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree in fine arts from the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai. He has had solo shows in Chennai and Bangalore and has exhibited in different parts of India. He is the coordinator and associate of Kinetic Artists Group in Chennai. He works from his studio in Velur village near Cheyyur in Tamil Nadu.