Natasha’s work offers a very genuine feel of India. Her father is Indian, and she often visits for long periods. She loves colour, obviously a very Indian thing in itself.
She is very excited by opposites; writing in advertisements contrasted with the bright colours of fabric, or the lonely cow. Her use of script is very contemporary, and the resulting image, through its clarity and design proclaims itself. It is both atmospheric and compact.
In hand with this delight in oppositions goes a personal conundrum, how to reconcile her Indian side with its passionate love of colour, with her English upbringing, which urges her to draw as correctly as possible, potentially exerting restraint on her feelings. She faces the two remarkably well, cutting out the sentimental and achieving a vital freshness in her work.
I am always struck by how vivid her paintings are, and how evocative are her prints.
Suboph Gupta, Bharti Kher, Jitish Kallat, Natasha Kumar and Rashid Rana (who was born in Pakistan) are among other names you’ll see performing well in contemporary auctions and on view in upcoming exhibitions. “There’s a whole generation of artists who were born after 1958 who can still be undervalued,” says Yamini Mehta, Christie’s head of modern and contemporary Indian art.
Art and India are in Kumar’s genes. On her mother’s English side she comes from a line of established artists: her father’s Indian heritage she traces back to Kashmir and Afghanistan via stories of partition and lost family gold.
She has made her own name as an artist from the age of 17, when, earning a place by right in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition she found her etchings hanging on the same wall as paintings by her grandfather and uncle.
Kumar began with a first class degree in printmaking at Manchester. She studied printmaking and anatomy in the Venice Accademia and completed her MA in printmaking in Camberwell in London in 2000, winning the London Printmaking Prize the same year.
More recently recently she has had a 5 month solo show in Southbank, regular exhibitions at the Royal Geographical Society, in 2015 gave a talk; Rasa: Essence of India – in the famous Ondaatje Theatre.
She pops up in less traditional art venues such as the Heathrow VIP Lounge, Science Museum and the Institute of Neurology as well as at specific Indian events in The Taj Hotel, Asia House, Alchemy (Southbank) and at Saatchi.
The Indian street art collection was installed in Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Soho for 6 months and her architectural series incorporated into wall design in Kricket, Soho. Soho House have just purchased a number of pieces for their latest venture in Juhu Beach, Mumbai.
Kumar divides her time between thinking space a rural farmhouse with dedicated painting and printmaking studios, intense studio practice in London and increasingly longer regular working trips to India to gather images and ideas. ‘Of course, it’s always an excuse to catch up with family – I miss those chapatis – but I just love it all, I absorb it like a sponge. When I get back to the studio I am bursting with new ideas. I love sharing that feeling through my work and when I meet people’. A passion and practice firmly established as the words ‘a trip of a lifetime’ was the overwhelming response from the clients she took to her favourite and most inspirational places in India.
Kumar firmly believes in personal interaction with her collectors ‘telling the story, and explaining techniques, is so important and gives depth’, so you will always find her chatting on the stand at Art Fairs and exhibitions. As a consequence Kumar has a dedicated and growing following of collectors worldwide.