K. Mathiskumar, ARTRA’s Emerging Artist 2022

Kopalapillai Mathiskumar started his journey into the creative world of art when he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Visual and Technological Arts from the Eastern University (SVIAS) in 2015, with a first class. Upon graduation, Mathis was chosen to be a temporary lecturer from 2016 to 2017 at SVIAS afterwhich he conducted an art class for a government school near Akkaraipattu, where he was born on the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka as an art teacher.  His work then, reflected  a sentimental view of nature and how it corresponded with the avarice of mankind.

Currently, Mathis is completing his Master’s degree in Creative Painting at the University of Lucknow, India. In Sri Lanka, he had worked with pigment ink and watercolor on board, oils on canvas and mixed media. He explored the pathos of nature, mankind's place on earth. Concentrating on the relationship between humanity, creatures and the environment, Mathis's main  thought was on living amicably with the environment in a sustainable manner.  

Upon arriving in Lucknow for his Master's degree, Mathis Kumar immediately learned, that though he had indeed seen the disagreement between the existence of man and nature before, right in his backyard, so to speak; that now, he had truly arrived at a crossroad in life, an opening of his mind, where he saw true disparity. He decided that his need for justice, his search for it, was more important to him than his need to be perfect in his paintings. A change in his painting style, original and innovative distinguishes his work in these new series showcased, which is a part of ARTRA Collection.

The title of his current series is 'Poverty', after the overwhleming pathos he had upon seeing something he had never seen before, the utter poverty in the slums of Lucknow. Mathis Kumar states that the cruel, unescapable poverty of the slums of Lucknow, made an irreversible change in him. The shear suffering of the poor and the endurance within this poverty affected the artist. He saw some poor street children wearing old patched, soiled clothing with unkempt, long, dirty hair. He observed these orphans collecting waste materials in a polythene bag, selling whatever little trinkets they could find. This was the decisive factor for his 'Poverty' series.

Feelings of despiar and anguish are widespread worldover. Illness, suffering and desolation seem to occupy many minds of and in this period of despair, yet art provides solace and critique. We find Mathis’ works to be emblematic in reflecting the ugly, squalor & contempt in grandeur.

Mathish Kumar has participated in nine of the group art exhibitions by the ‘Non-Violent Artist Group’ which took place across the years, exhibiting their works at public spaces while also interacting with the public for community engagement via artistic expression in the Eastern & Northern Provinces. Mathish Kumar has also worked on commission for the revered C. Anjalendran’s Architecture projects including that of an Ayurvedic Spa. His works are a part of ARTRA Collection as well.

ARTRA Collection is a series of works acquired by ARTRA of Sri Lankan Contemporary Artists namely emerging and those identified, recognized and promoted by ARTRA since its inception in 2012 who are novel in thought, critical in nature and unique in presentation. Whilst showcasing Sri Lankan Contemporary Art in public spaces in a curated format, ARTRA Collection aims at facilitating the growth of the Sri Lankan art eco-system and that of Art Tourism.

Written by Namalee Siriwardhane

22nd May, 2023 Visual Art | Paintings