Rahul Kumar

Extending Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

Rahul Kumar is a Delhi-based ceramic artist who has been given a grant to create a large-scale ceramic installation, 14x6 ft, which is to be part of the India Art Fair in 2015. Rahul’s interest in large-scale installations stems from his desire to challenge the conventional association of ceramics with function and utility, and create work through this medium that is expressive in an aesthetic sense. He plans on making a number of small and large ceramic objects which work as containers (pots) but also simultaneously tell stories, individually and as an installation. Most of Rahul’s work has engaged the idea of dichotomy, being relatively small scale. His desire to experiment with scale has several implications on technique. He will also need to experiment with firing styles, including the challenge of finding or making a kiln large enough to fire the individual pieces he has in mind.

As envisaged in the tentative design sketch, Rahul has put together the proposed installation of platters of various sizes with textures and motifs on them. Several will have components growing out and entering the space of the viewer. Rahul prefers to use the term ‘organic geometry’ to describe the installation. The exhibition space would also allow Rahul to realise his objectives in terms of audience engagement, because he is interested not only in using scale for attention, but also hopes that viewers will explore each individual component for its unique details and imagery.

It is difficult to gauge the risk and experimentation entailed in a work such as this without having an understanding of the processes involved in the making of ceramic art, and that IFA does not often receive proposals in this area. In view of this, Rahul’s proposal was sent to Riyas Komu and Jyotsna Bhatt for external evaluation. At the conclusion of the project, IFA will invite Jyotsna Bhatt to evaluate the project, its challenges, shortcomings and successes. This is a particularly interesting grant to have been made under EAP since it serves the dual purpose of introducing IFA to the challenges and risks of working with ceramics, and also simultaneously places us in a better position to be able to gauge ceramic-based proposals in the future, allowing us to acquire an understanding of what the nature of ‘critical practice’ in relation to ceramic art would be.