Artist Namrata Kumar On Making The World Her Canvas
India has always been a land of many colours and cultures, all stitched together into a tapestry of unique experiences. When artist and graphic designer Namrata Kumar was given the opportunity to design Independence Day's doodle for Google India, she took it to showcase India's rich textile heritage. And that's not all. India and all the other places she has travelled to have been her muse for the longest time. In an exclusive interview with Outlook Traveller, Kumar talks about how travel inspires her art, her creative process, and her favourite destinations.
How has your journey as an artist influenced your experiences while travelling?
The thrill of travel lies in discovering new terrains and immersing myself in the intricate web of places, people, and cultures that collectively give a destination its unique personality. Observing the local people can be an enlightening experience. How people interact, the customs they uphold, and the stories they share all contribute to the fabric of a place's identity.
When I travel, I consciously try to take pictures of things and people I find interesting while subconsciously and viscerally absorbing the nuances of my surroundings. It's about collecting moments and emotions that transcend geographical boundaries.
Can you share a specific a travel experience that significantly impacted your creative process?
Earlier this year, I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Naggar, a mountain town in Himachal Pradesh, for a 2-week art residency curated by Live North, an architectural studio and creative hub in the larger Kullu district. The time there was spent immersing myself in life in the mountains, meeting and interacting with local pahadi people, understanding their unique culture, and getting acquainted with their indigenous architectural and craft forms. Experiences like these significantly impact you as a person and help you evolve in the long run, both creatively and spiritually.
Could you explain how you translate the emotions and sensations evoked by travel into your chosen artistic medium?
When I embark upon illustrating subjects that depict a place, my intent is to capture the essence of these locales and evoke their unique spirit. Consider the Seascapes of Kutch series, wherein I deliberately use a muted colour palette and employ minimalist compositions composed of only a handful of elements. The resultant effect is one of tranquillity, evoking an almost meditative ambience.
Artworks of the Kochi backwaters employ multiple strokes and dots to capture the dense foliage, dancing light, and water reflections. This technique serves as an invitation, a passage for the observer to step into the tableau. As the viewer's gaze traverses the canvas, there is an almost tactile connection to the environment portrayed.
Therefore, colour plays a very important role in my work; the selection and combination of colours are not merely aesthetic choices but architects of mood and conductors of ambience.
What are your favourite destinations in India to travel to, and what are a few that are on your bucket list?
I think Jaisalmer and Rajasthan as a whole would be somewhere on top of that list. Rajasthan has this uncanny ability to make one feel like they've travelled back in history. I've been visiting Himachal since I was a kid, and it has a special place in my heart. The mountains have palpable energies that can't be seen but only felt. I love the South of India overall. Kodaikanal, specifically, was surreal.
On my bucket list are Leh, Ladakh, Kashmir, and Sikkim. Lakshadweep would definitely be a dream. Internationally, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Greece, Guatemala and Peru have been on my bucket list for a while.