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B Manjunath Kamath

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1972, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
Lives and works in New Delhi

Manjunath Kamath is an artist who believes in narrating stories through paintings, drawings, sculpture, video and digital media. He enjoys playing with everyday images translating them to extraordinary creations containing elements of surprise, mystery and witticism. Kamath’s narratives remain unfulfilled without the engagement of his viewers. He compels them to form their own perceptions about his work in order to lay emphasis on the idea of continuity through artistic creations.



Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture), Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts, Mysore, Karnataka, India

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UNDERSTANDING B Manjunath Kamath

Memories of past experience ignites and immortalizes most of his works

Kamath’s childhood was rooted in tradition, culture and  folklores. Visiting temples, reading fables and listening to his grandmother’s  tales always fascinated and inspired him to imagine and create a picture in his  mind. Recounting his early visits to the temple,he  says that the large murals of mythological stories, goddesses with  thousand hands and the awe-inspiring idol of Varaha gave him immense joy . Memories of past experiences therefore give a  motif to his paintings as he chooses to narrate stories through his visuals.

The recurring symbol of the rabbit is an obituary to one of his pet rabbits that passed away. Every painting has a new story to tell the viewers and each image of the past is given a new shape in his works. Reality is metamorphosed into fiction and the mix of fact and fiction gives it a surreal touch.

B Manjunath Kamath, Pumpkin and Varaha in my backyard, 2010, acrylic and oil on canvas, diptych, 48 x96”.

Kamath is a magician using art as his magical wand

Kamath plays with time and space to create magic realism. He deploys this tool in order to disturb the idea of real space and time thereby disturbing the viewer’s concept of reality. “How Come He is Here” is a work of the artist that is situated in an accentuated and hyperbolic concept of time and space. While the characters and objects are familiar and are adaptations from either a mythic or contemporary background, the spatial and temporal space becomes unsettling. Each character in the frame looks confused about the other character’s presence. Not only are the characters questioning themselves and their surroundings, but even the viewer is forced to ask this question as to what is exactly happening. This deliberate attempt of mixing the real and the imaginary, mundane and the extraordinary unveils Kamath, the magical man in disguise.

B Manjunath Kamath, How Come He is Here?, 2009, digital print on archival paper, 52 x 80”.

Testing your wits through the trope of humor

“When I sleep with my wife, I sleep with my bed as well, so I thought to myself, if my wife can get pregnant, why can’t my bed!”

On the one hand, it seems to be a bizarre yet funny logic, but, on the other, Kamath through his “Pregnant Bed” takes into custody the notion of social conventions that need to be questioned over and over again. Through his painting, he is trying to delve into the domain of the unsaid by revealing the fact that anything and everything can be possible in a work of fiction. In his world, the bizarre and the illogical occupy the same space, no matter if one is real and the other unreal.

B Manjunath Kamath, Pregnant bed, 2010-11, fibre glass, 72 x 38 x 8”.

'Claymation' triggered a revolutionary saga in the history of artworks

Kamath is the first Indian artist to have initiated an exploration into the technique of animated video installation. He came up with the revolutionary concept of claymation video which got popularized with his artwork “Talk”, the main idea behind which was to jolt people and pull them away from the trivialities of life and bring them in tune with deeper aspects. Kamath does not use any fancy elements in his videos. The objects are simply a part of everyday existence. He uses Flash software as a sketchbook to create ideas for his animation videos.  Kamath says that the desire to communicate is the basis of all creations and in order to overcome desire and fear of the other, one has to talk and resolve issues. “Talk” is thus a humorous yet tongue-in- cheek take on the irony of human lives and how they ceaselessly go on handling issues without ever resolving them.

B Manjunath Kamath, Talk, 2007, clay motion video

His works reflect reality as well as a concern for purposelessness

In his video presentation, Kamath brings the idea of meaninglessness to the fore. He says that human beings suffer from a disease of collecting things from shops without any meaning . His artwork Yes, It’s all Mine expresses his dislike towards the attitude of extravagance and superciliousness. It highlights the importance of meaning and purpose which cannot be built upon materialistic belongings. This image is also suggestive of a tussle between those who “want and have it all” and those “that cannot even get a little”. For Kamath, the attitude of “Yes, It’s all mine” is nonsensical and devoid of meaning.

B Manjunath Kamath, Yes it’s all mine, 2011, digital print on paper, 96 x 34”