Kanth says he has spent many glorious hours doing nothing in that corner. Such is his aversion to the system of ‘bonding’ that Kanth never stuck to anything he started, including his course at JNTU. “I discontinued and I don’t know why. But I don’t regret it,” says Kanth as he plays with his canvas of fibreglass on a stand with a floodlight underneath. With sand on the borders of the canvas he is busy creating a picture. He does not consider himself a sand artist. “I am an artist and so I cannot be recognised with the medium or raw materials I use. I work with rice, salt, flour, sand, sawdust and dust… anything which I feel like touching that particular day,” he explains.
Kanth didn’t travel from Achampet to Hyderabad to become an artist or to pursue a career in fine arts. “I came here to work in an STD booth. I was earning Rs. 1200 and I was happy and contented. The booth gave me a lot of time to think (because it was not frequented by too many customers) about myself. After working for nine months I quit and discovered that I have a knack for creativity and that I was a very good escapist,” he says.
But Kanth wasn’t in a hurry to make up for the time he missed. He calls it “experience.” He joined JNTU and soon after worked in the animation industry as a clean-up artist. “Here my JNTU’s knowledge helped me get the job,” he laughs as he slips a fine line of dust through his fist to define a girl’s face on his canvas.
Kanth has no formal training in this form of art. His inspiration and guru is Kseniya Simonova from Ukraine. “She is a genius and I stumbled on her and her work accidentally and I took a fancy to it,” he says. Observing Kanth work is like observing a child at play. He runs his fingers to create ripples in water, to make lotuses bloom and describe the dance of a peacock.
“Can anything be more basic than this kind of art which all of us as little children would have indulged in? Be it sand, chalk, rice or muggu powder?” He’s not worried about saving the canvases. “That is the beauty of making canvases with materials like sand, dust and talcum powder etc. Nothing is consistent. It changes. The art which I want to save is done on paint. Like I said: I am an artist and I make use of all mediums.”
These days Kanth is working on a series of flowers and petals with paint and canvas. “I am planning to create 25 such works in 30 minutes and photograph them, which will be later enhanced with colour. The works will be in acrylic, water colour or oil.” He also seems pleased with his sculpting skills and hopes to hold an exhibition.
Kanth’s support in all that he did (and did not) has been his family, especially his mother and brother. “When I started going out for presentations and shows for MNCs my mother asked me to buy her a sari. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to do what everyone does. Instead, when I held my first big show at Ravindra Bharathi’s art gallery, she was my chief guest and I requested her to inaugurate my show. She was in tears,” he laughs. Towards his later show inaugurations, he says, “she became quite a professional in being my chief guest.” A big fan of Michelangelo, Kanth says art shouldn’t have a definitive meaning unless someone wants it like that. Art is about the mind, which could contradict and complement at the same time.
Kanth has written his autobiography and hopes to publish it by April.
Can anything be more basic than this kind of art which all of us as little children would have indulged in? Be it sand, chalk, rice or muggu powder?