The artist is no more, but his work lives on to speak of his dedication and creative energy.
The Boatman-2, a work by Malayali artist K.P. Krishnakumar, who was hailed by his peers as an extraordinarily talented and charismatic artist, is on display at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
The late artist’s brother visited the venue on Saturday and spoke about the story behind the title of the sculpture from the late 1980s when India’s visual art scene was undergoing a revolutionary churning.
K.P. Krishnakumar had completed a striking work casting a boatman in fibreglass. But the work happened to perish in a fire at an exhibition in Geneva, said K.P. Madhavan, a brother of Krishnakumar who had led a revolutionary pan-Indian art movement before killing himself at age 31 in 1989.
“Krishnakumar did get some insurance money as compensation. But you know how insignificant it could mean for the creator of the work,” said Madhavan, standing next to Boatman-2, which is on display at Pepper House. That is when Krishnakumar, who had led a short but stormy movement under the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association, thought he would work on his boatman for a second time. Again, using fibreglass.
“The act shows how much my brother was committed to his art,” Madhavan was quoted as saying in a communication from the organisers of the Biennale.
Madhavan said it was “gratifying” that a couple of works of Krishnakumar had figured at the country’s first biennale. The second sculpture is being exhibited at the Durbar Hall Gallery in the city.