A Kinetic Narrative
To understand the relevance of Kinetics Madras group one must be familiar with the legacy of art in Chennai/Madras, the city in which the group was formed and with which its identity is deeply intertwined. The artists who are part of this group are all graduates of the Government College of Fine Arts, formerly the Madras School of Arts. Formed in the year 1850, this institution has an illustrious history of producing many nationally and internationally renowned artists. The institution was the focal point of the Madras Art Movement in the 1960s. In the same decade, artists associated with the institution also established Cholamandal Artists’ Village, space where artists could live and work together. In more recent years, Kinetics Madras, a group that is dedicated to peer level exchange among artists and furthering one’s art practice, has emerged as an important collective force of artists from this institution.
One can locate the formation of Kinetics in the broader context of the Indian art world in the 2000s. During these years, the art market was growing rapidly across the country while galleries courted well-known artists through exhibitions and camps in exotic locations. However, in Chennai, this was a time when young artists were bereft of the support of galleries that instead focused their energy on established artists. Artists of the city responded by creating groups that gave them a visible identity and voice. Notable among these groups were Genesis and Kinetics of which only the latter, formed in 2007, continues to exist to date.
Kinetics is a product of its times. The group was formed since the artists realized that a collective identity would not only stimulate their own art practice but also make them a more effective catalyst in energizing the local art scene. Interestingly, here the individual identity is not erased within the idea of the collective as artists aligned with Kinetics pursue varied creative directions. The common thread tying them together is their desire to change the status quo of how art is practiced and perceived both by themselves and by others in the city.
Kinetics, like the word signifies, is a dynamic entity both conceptually and in terms of its members. Dilip Kumar, Gurunathan Govindan, Kumaresan Selvaraj, Saravanan Parasuraman, S. Suresh Kumar, and P. Suresh Kumar were the initial members of the group. Over the years, some artists moved on voluntarily while others joined seeing merit in being aligned with the group. At present, the members of the group are Dilip Kumar, Gurunathan, Kumaresan, Saravanan, P Suresh Kumar, Aneesh, Sunil Sree, Yuvaraj, and Yuvan Bothisathuvar. The aspect that has not changed over all these years is the camaraderie that exists between the artists who regularly meet, discuss, and even travel together. The bond the artists share also emerges from the fact that they all graduated from the same institution although during different years. Furthermore, many of them were fellow practitioners at Lalit Kala Akademi, a state-run studio in the city. The friendship amongst the artists, which goes a long way in smoothening any rough edges, combined with the non-authoritative, non-institutional, and non-hierarchical nature of the group has contributed to its longevity. Even as many art groups in Chennai formed simultaneously and after no longer exist, Kinetics continues to thrive holding regular annual exhibitions both within the city and outside.
Art history is replete with groups and collectives that were formed on the basis of a shared work ideology or the desire to create a change. Some of these formations were also accompanied by the writing of a manifesto that fleshed out their ideals. However, rather than begin with a concrete set of ideals, Kinetics has preferred an exploratory approach allowing its ideals to be shaped by time and the artist’s own lived experience of being in the field of art. Now Kinetics group is poised to become ‘Kinetics Madras Art Foundation’ accompanied by crystallization of its vision and method of functioning.
When the group began in 2007, the artists who were part of it were then at a relatively early stage in their own careers. Over the last 13 years, these artists have grown in their careers and in their thinking. Kinetics has also evolved with them and is now taking the shape of an alternative educational forum, especially for young artists, where workshops, discussions, and exhibitions could be held. Firm in the belief that “one must be the change one wishes to see”, the artists of Kinetics are passionate about creating the kind of nurturing space that they themselves lacked when they were beginning their respective art practices. They envision this space as one where young artists can learn from the insights of seniors in the field and at the same time equip themselves with career skills that are seldom taught in any art institution. Most importantly, Kinetics also aims to be an inclusive artist-led forum for the varying artistic voices of the city to engage in conversation. In a city where the art community is fractured along various lines, a platform, where varied stakeholders can enter into dialogue on artistic and intellectual issues setting aside personal differences, is indeed the need of the hour.
Kinetics not only plans to work within the art community instilling better practices but it also hopes to change the way art is perceived by audiences. In a city where the cultural scene is dominated by music and dance, Kinetics is a call for recognising the richness of visual arts. At a pan-national level where artists from this region are rarely recognised, Kinetics is sure to create a much-needed voice for the art of the city.
Art Historian and Curator
KINETICS is a group of young artists from the Alma Mater of Government College of Fine Arts in Chennai. The year 2007 marked the growth of this group where, budding artists joined hands to create an everlasting impression. This group is specifically identified as one that has casted an impact in the Art Scene of Chennai leaving behind deep rooted footsteps for the juniors to follow. This group indeed survives in the sheer joy of helping each other, collaborating ideas, travelling to less known places and partying like family. So the momentum of art evolved from their lives and surroundings which motivated them and inturn influenced their works.
As an observer and a co existing artist I have been inspired to each and every artist of this group, towards their work and character. The different styles of work of art created are connected through a common thread of understanding each other. This group has already established itself as one that is on the ‘lookout for innovative ideas, spectacular creations and experimentation. The inception of ‘kinetics’ has successfully achieved soaring heights with a commendable team for over a decade now.
Kinetics has become a forum for interesting thoughts and varied perception providing opportunities for many other artists to participate. ‘Sign’ a show presented by Kinetics, at Cholamandal artist village, has been one such milestone worth mentioning. The group has only been amplified ever since its birth, of course a few members parted owing to personal commitments but many came along the March. Each and every artist in this group holds the lantern of fostering a dedicated and differentiated pattern of working style, visuals and experimentation. The artists have progressed from working at Lalit Kala Akademi, under a single roof to now where the artists have their individual studio spaces. Yet, the essence of being together in ‘Kinetics’ is settled with weekend interactions, partying and travelling together.
Weekend meetings and discussions have always been instrumental and also working together at ‘Lalit Kala Akademi’ paved way for the collaboration for this group to be a happening one. Each and every artist has never stepped back but only lead forward in different paths towards the same destination.
-Sujeeth Kumar Sree Kandan