The Omnipresent Self

The river flowing through me…’ is an autobiographical landscape that is, at once, psychological, environmental, metaphysical and historical.
– KP Pradeep Kumar

The exhibition features Pradeep’s most recent body of works, which talks about artistic subjectivity as the internal self, and the constitution of the self in relation to the exterior ‘others’, to challenge the separations of eco-diversity of our times.

As an artist, KP Pradeep Kumar, in his practice, has been predominantly interested in crafting visceral relationships between nature, the idea of self, and their forms of interdependencies in different times, spaces, and geographies. KP Pradeep Kumar’s artistic concerns have been deeply informed through his painterly engagements, being rooted in various landscape paintings and poetry traditions of Kerala. The body of works presented in the exhibition includes his mix-media works on paper and his very recent sculptural explorations in his artistic practice. For that matter, the painting  Creation of Other, in particular, and  

Creation of Other, Watercolor, gouache, charcoals, soft pastels on 300gsm Fabriano paper, 37 x 53 inches, 2021. All Images courtesy: Art Centrix Space.

its thematic connections to the rest of the artworks from this exhibition, highlight a strong sense of autobiographical storytelling in Pradeep’s painterly engagements. In many ways, Pradeep’s artworks and his practice celebrate selfhood, and nurture the most mundane realities to search for meanings of associations, as well as a sense of familiarity through nostalgias, geographies, and passages of time. In this process, it is also fascinating how Pradeep builds upon different tales that he is surrounded with—in relation to the living  traditions of his region—to construct his narratives and a sense of expression through his painterly engagements. In that sense, his practice highlights meditative slowness while working intrinsically with different layers and mediums, to open opportunities to relate to the landscape and stories beyond the linearity of time and existence.



Habitual Trails, Watercolor, gouache on Khadi handmade paper, 16.5 x 12 inches, 2023.


KP Pradeep Kumar has worked on this exhibition for the past five years. The exhibition incorporates thematically three bodies of artworks, which have been developed in parallel in the last few years of his engagements. The exhibition, as a whole, is an outcome of the everyday sketches, travels, readings, and the photographs taken during this period. For instance, the series of works, Habitual Trails, sheds light on the astronomical events to the sites as transformative experiences, where such events do not exist as a part of one’s everyday life. The works from the series talk about the mythical stories of his region and moments of encounters with unprecedented natural events. In that way, the artworks from the series are a byproduct of his drawings and his excessive landscape studies, where they become the point of departure from the monotony of everyday life to bring about phenomenological value to his painterly attributions. As the central idea of this exhibition, Pradeep is interested in working with different water bodies and their various relationships to human behaviours. Both historically and psychologically, KP Pradeep Kumar, through his artworks, aims to move beyond the conventional understandings of dreams, longing, and interior and exterior spaces. 

River that flows through me; Watercolor, gouache, soft pastels on 300 gsm Fabriano paper, 55 x 45 inches, 2021.


The second body of works from the series—such as Path of Purity and river that flows through me, among others—demarcate the central idea of the exhibition. As the thread to this exhibition, this series of work synchronously blurs definite grounds in the landscapes and transcends to a larger limitless territoriality. Starting from haziness in the textures to continual treatments of lines in the artworks and the miniature human figures in the series of paintings,  show the monumentality of nature’s beauty and the cosmic intervals beyond human consciousness. Similarly, the third body of works is about the omnipresence of the protagonist, for forming identities to safeguard and nurture natural phenomena through painterly imaginations. At multiple levels, the works Creation of Other and as we descend, the land becomes good are an attempt to showcase the idea of nature beyond the divide of nature and human. The works talk about the representations of humans in various regional stories  and how, as an artist, Pradeep incorporates those imaginations and visualities to counter-challenge both the history and Western art-history. In many ways, Pradeep’s way of storytelling highlights  his choices of working with his own community of people. along with the uses of different mediums such as watercolour, charcoal, soft pastels, and gouache on paper, have been a process for developing his artistic propositions and narrative building. 

This exhibition, on the whole, refers to various regional histories and vernacular traditions  that the artist has been directly connected with. In numerous ways The River Flowing Through Me has extended KP Pradeep Kumar’s artistic inquiries on regionality, changing landscapes, understanding of the idea of body, and the relationships to water bodies through history, cultural practices, and mythical representations, as a framework to site-specificity. As the artist says, the use of human figures or the protagonist in the paintings are not about making ideological representations; rather how a common man or a community of people, who are being ignored, rejected and unrecognised, can be a part of different forms of story-telling with a strong sense of empathy. This way, the exhibition equally emphasises  the aesthetics of the region, while bringing forth various levels of marginalised and subaltern  discourses for telling stories. In KP Pradeep Kumar’s artistic journey, the exhibition opens the artist’s major line of inquiries on the self-body and the uses of the body in making different levels of fantastical relationships to nature and the extended landscapes. ≠The artworks in the show highlight the beauty of flora and fauna of the artist’s immediate surroundings, but as a whole, also strongly raise questions and provocations around the contemporary changes with regard to the co-existence of personal histories, ecological detachments, and the longing to connect with the internal being, as an expanded horizon.      


KP Pradeepkumar, As we descend, the land becomes good, Watercolor, gouache, charcoal, soft pastels on paper, 57 x 44 inches, 2023.

The River Flowing Through Me, curated by Monica Jain, Art Centrix Space, 6 October – 6 November 2023.

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About Author

Sibdas Sengupta is a conceptual Artist, Writer, Program Strategist and Curator, working between Gurgaon, Haryana, and his hometown Cuttack, Odisha. He has done his BFA from B. K. College of Art and Craft, Bhubaneswar, and MFA from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences from Shiv Nadar University, Dadri. The recent curatorial exhibitions by Sibdas include Polyphonies in Distance for Gallery Dotwalk (2023) and I, Non-I and The Other for Shiv Nadar Institute of Eminence (2023).  Sibdas has worked with several organisations in managerial and curatorial positions. Sengupta’s work experiences include  Utsha Foundation for Contemporary Art, Bhubaneswar; Bhubaneswar Art Trail 2020; Kala Chaupal Trust, Gurgaon and Art Centrix Space, New Delhi among others.

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