Naresh Kumar et Shinichiro Koromo: Choc Parisien
Maison Du Japon, Paris
Curator: Sumash Shama
Invité d’honneur : Jean-Luc Vilmouth
The ‘Cite Universitaire’ in Paris was conceived to house various nations that would intend to send their people to study in France’s largest university system, what was unintended were disparities in architecture and facilities provided by participating countries. While all of Africa was grouped into one large building , the Americans sought about to build a nouveau riche manor that they believed would shame the Parisiens, actually comically stands out as a conservative stance America has always sought socially and is remembered historically.
The ‘Paris Syndrome’ is an affliction of a few Japanese and Scottish visitors to Paris , on their first time around , who fail to satiate their expectations of romance the city promises. Its insensitivities shock them into seeking medical treatment and help, but travel guides to the city blame the troubles on gypsies and north African immigrants rather than an introspection into the tourist experience. The tourist experience is ridiculous but even then important, a social and economic function that sustains a few economies and leads to people changing their lives , moving to places , and deciding on personal situations. Its utilities are endless and the gaze seductively exotic.
Kumar came from the Patna College of Arts and Crafts, Patna is a city in Eastern India and the capital of India’s poorest states – Bihar. The college is known all over India for its ability in producing the best water-colourists, its most known alumni – Subodh Gupta had similar beginnings. The ability at watercolour is inherited from Mughal miniature painters who migrated to the city when it became an entrepot for the East India Company as a port on the Ganges for the opium trade. Mughal Miniaturists had migrated to the city from Delhi after the influence of the Mughal empire began to wane. The painters used cheaply available transparent Mica to paint images of the water carrier, the cobbler, dancers, prostitutes, wanderers , god men and others. These were sold as souvenirs to an international market of visiting company officials and were sought for in England as documentation from the scenes of Britain’s most prized colony. People travelled through these small watercolours and they became India’s first secular political form of art that depicted the public and not a court scene or an imperial victory. They were called the ‘Patna Kalam’ and they were not collected by India’s 200 or so royal families but laymen in Britain engaged by the Company. Radha Mohanjee one of the last Patna Kalam painters established the Patna College of Arts & Crafts.
Naresh Kumar found a stack of old exercise books into which were neatly typed notes on the economy and the political principles of the French state, this he used to paint portraits of Paris immigrants engaged in itinerant trades. When Naresh Kumar began working with me to establish an itinerant Clark House in Paris, we realised that for him to spend his bourse on art materials would only lead to a great paucity of funds. Thus we began to collect material on the streets specifically on Wednesday nights finding old televisions, household articles such as utensils, cups and plates and furniture. These articles became Naresh Kumar’s ingredients for his year at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. When I first migrated to France a decade ago I sustained myself by collecting and selling disused electronic, furniture and household effects and revisiting this past with Naresh Kumar was extremely satisfying as a curatorial act. Naresh Kumar connected with his African neighbours at Lucien Paye through their love for rice after few days of suffering bread Naresh Kumar returned to eating rice. Most of West African cuisine is always accompanied by generous portions of white rice. But rice is one of the largest commodities imported into West Africa , a commodity that forces many people to migrate, much like Naresh Kumar’s own personal migration to Patna with his father when their rice crop was destroyed on the fourth consecutive year when he was child. For him the journey of rice explained the journey of migration. Thus through a series of performances, drawings and sculptures Naresh Kumar presents his year in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Text: Sumesh Sharma, Fort Kochi – 2015