Vijay Kumar is happy counting money by the morning and holding the paintbrush by evening
His silvery mane flows down to reach his shirt unbuttoned at the top. His nimble fingers work deftly on the canvas while he tries to adjust the smoking pipe in his mouth. S. Vijay Kumar (57), who works as a clerk in the State Bank of India, is a familiar name to the art-lovers of Guntur city. One of the illustrious ’Pandavas’, a group of five artistes, he has carved a niche for himself and has been the pride of the city for over three decades.
Whether working on abstract works depicting mountainous terrains, rugged hills and cliffs with measured application of soot against skies or drawing the fine curves of a human form, Vijay Kumar has always displayed uniqueness in his work.
He developed and mastered a new technique, with application of linseed oil and lamp soot resulting in a unique textural finish, a visual delight.
What started as a childhood passion for drawing soon developed into an obsession and once he discovered the artiste in him, there was no looking back. Brought up in a liberal atmosphere, he had the advantage of free education through scholarship. “I was greatly influenced by the 20 th century impressionists after reading Lust for Life, the biography of Vangogh, a 20th century impressionist,” he says.
Undaunted by the initial hiccups in learning nuances of the art from an art school, he continued his endeavour with unwavering willpower. “I realized that art cannot be taught, it should be learnt and mastered,” he reminisces. Armed with a degree in science, he landed a job in the State Bank of India in 1971.
If the morning hours were spent in money calculating, the evenings were devoted to painting watercolours and canvasses of many hues. Beginning with watercolours, he gradually expanded horizons and ventured into oil paintings by developing abstract and accidental forms.
A relentless search for a new technique led him to developing the art of application of linseed oil and lamp soot, creating a unique textural finish. The new discovery not only earned instant approval but was also appreciated by people from all walks of life and his paintings were selected for State, regional and national level exhibitions. Painting rocky surfaces and rugged hills and cliffs, sharply defined through the application of soot against skies lighter in shade and creating a sense of mystery is a passion he developed recently. Vijay Kumar goes about his work with an adventurous streak.
It did not take long for awards to flood his mantle piece. He won the Andhra Pradesh Lalit Kala Akademi award in 1981, Andhra Academy of Arts award in 1990-1992 and Hyderabad Art Society award in 1995-1997.
It was a moment of great pride for Vijay Kumar when his works were featured along side the masterpieces of the likes of M.F. Hussain and Jogen Chowdary in the Art Exhibition, organised by the Cancer Patients Aid Association.
Leading life on his own terms, Vijay Kumar is eager to give back to the town. “We are now mobilizing funds to set up a Kala Peetham, a place to train the budding artistes,” he says happily.P. SAMUEL JONATHAN