This photograph by Vivan Sundaram captures K.P. Krishnakumar with his unfinished sculptures in Kasauli Art Centre during his stay there between September and October 1985.
Born in Kuttipuram, Kerala in 1958, Krishnakumar was nephew of the Malayalam poet Edasseri. In 1981, he passed the diploma in sculpture from the College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum. Thereafter he went to Santiniketan for a post diploma, and in July 1984 was admitted as a scholarship holder at the Kanoria Centre for Arts in Ahmedabad. Leaving the Centre shortly, he attended the young sculptors camp at Kasauli. Since then he had been living and working in Baroda. Amidst a vibrant sculptural front in the 1980s, he had participated in the Seven Young Sculptors exhibition organized by Kasauli Art Centre and curated by Vivan Sundaram. Krishnakumar soon after co-founded The Radical Painters’ and Sculptors’ Association (1987–89). In 1989, K.P. Krishnakumar's life tragically ended with his committing suicide.
Excerpt from Geeta Kapur, When Was Modernism: Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India, Tulika Books, New Delhi, 2000: ‘This Kerala–Baroda group hammered out a militant agenda, arguing that Indian art required a radical interrogation of political and aesthetic issues. K.P. Krishnakumar adopted a heroic agenda in his tragically brief career. He used the figural gesture, often profoundly comic, to taunt the viewer and also to signal faith in the sculptural presence itself. In an act of Brechtian double-take he hoped to reinscribe a lost humanism in the local liberationist politics of his home-state of Kerala, and thenceforth perhaps in (what he might have called) the betrayed map of the nation.’
Kasauli Art Centre was founded in 1976 by artist Vivan Sundaram in Kasauli, a hill station in North India. The Centre is known to have organized artists camps, international artist residency programmes, seminars and theatre workshops, all designed to explore common grounds between artists, film-makers, critics, architects, playwrights and performers.