ON VINAY KUMAR’S “KNOWN TO UNKNOWN METAPHOR”
As a trained printmaker, Vinay Kumar has an interest in tools and processes. This has continued over his earlier series of digital images of printing presses and printmaking studios he has worked in, into this recent body of work titled “Known to Unknown Metaphor” made during a stay in in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Here he takes the ready made copper yantras available in the market and made in the city and uses them as intaglio plates, rubbing ink on them and passing them through a printing press to make prints. The prints become inverted images of the original embossed images, like a mirror image: the original religious text unreadable or rather, difficult to read. The found images of a long tradition are in this way brought into his contemporary art practice, being both readable/ unreadable, religious/ aesthetic, artisanal as well as industrial.
In several of the prints, abstract etched forms reminiscent of the shapes of primitive tools and weapons, but also of yonis and lingams, are printed along with the inverted images of the yantras. During his stay in Bhopal, Vinay Kumar saw the fossils and tribal artefacts in the Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum, the Birla Museum and the Museum of Natural History in Bhopal and also travelled to the nearby Bhimbetka cave shelters with paintings from the Paleolithic era, exhibiting the earliest signs of human habitation in India. Fascinated by the palimpsest of these layers of histories existing now in the same time and space, he attempts in these works to place together these two kinds of ancient traditions: the Tantric as well as the aboriginal, and to find a relationship between them. Finally, both the copper yantras as tools used for worship and the primitive tools used for hunting or agriculture, become his tools for making art.
Bangalore, August 2015