Back to all artists
Next Previous

Riyas Komu

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1971, Kerala, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

As an artist, Riyas Komu is known for his political art, depicted through expressive portraits of people’s faces. Issues faced by Contemporary India, politics and football are some of the major concerns in his artworks. His style is understated yet possesses a certain vigour which brings out the pathos of the theme or situation addressed quite effectively.



Master of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J. J. School of Arts, Mumbai


Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J. J. School of Arts, Mumbai

VIEW     Selected exhibitions     Text      Videos      Selected images      View all




Gallery Show Solo


Countries exhibited in


Museum Show Solo


International / national residencies


Years in Practice




Special Projects




Museum/public collections


Museum Show Group






Gallery Show Group


Komu's works focus on the face and eyes

Many of Riyas Komu’s works on canvas are portraits of people’s faces. The picture drawn is like an over sized passport image where the face tells a story of its own. It shows the artist’s understanding of human behaviour and expression. The face depicts the emotions felt by that person. When we meet someone, we take that person’s image in our minds with the whole surrounding and environment that that person is in, but zeroing down on a person’s face tells us the real story. Komu often situates these faces against a plain background that emphasizes them even more. The most important feature in his portraits is the eyes. His eyes are unique and very detailed, reflecting in them, the summary of the whole painting and what it is trying to say.

Riyas Komu, Systematic Citizen V.

He is passionate about Football and problems faced in that sport

Football plays a central role and is an inspiration for many of the artist’s works. He has expressed this through both his paintings and his sculptures. Komu was affected by Iraq’s Football Captain Younis Mahmoud’s statement after their victory and was drawn to the team. He has also tried to express the marginalization experienced by the Indian football team. His works are an expression of the anguish, distress, hope, discrimination, hard work and national pride experienced by the various teams. His series like ‘Iraq Project’ and ‘Subrata to Cesar’ tries to bring focus on these issues. He has also painted women of the Indian Women Football team, laying emphasis on the lack of media coverage on them. Komu has also commented on politics through his work with football like his works with the Iraqi football team, which was juxtaposed against the American invasion of Iraq.

Riyas Komu, Left Legs VI and VII, 2008, wood, concrete, iron stone sculpture

His versatility as an artist is evident in his intricate carvings

Komu has not limited his artistic creativity to painting but has expanded his oeuvre to include sculptures. He has worked with both metal and wood. His carvings are very neat and smooth, some of them in varying sizes. The designs used are very intricate, which clearly requires a lot of work and patience.  The intricacy of his works adds genuinity to the art. The intricate carvings give a feeling of intimacy to the viewers. They are both complex and simple at the same time, which provokes the viewer to think more about the work. Some of the designs are not conventional patterns. Komu has carved skulls on his wood works as an expression of his views.  He has molded his sculptures into legs, figures, abstracts and the like.On the other hand he has used traditional designs too in his works.

Riyas Komu, Two works: Still the White Looks Bigger.

Colours seem to pop out of the mediums

The colour combinations used by Komu seem to pop out of the frame and give life to the images. The textures and combinations used by Komu give the painting a dash of pop art . The artist does not use many colours but he uses the colours in varying shades to reflect the light in the environment. His shading is quite commendable. The plain background and the choice of colours make it seem that the images are floating onto the background and can be grasped with our bare hands. The artist tries to reduce the number of colours used to a minimum, which adds more simplicity and life to the paintings and focuses on the image drawn.

Riyas Komu, MY NEXT DOOR, BUT I CAN'T SEE, 2007, oil, enamel and marble grain on canvas, 24 x 36 in

Expresses his views on various political concerns

Komu’s works are expressive of political issues and his feelings. Through his paintings, he has sought to voice his views.  They are a reflection of our times and troubles. The expressions on the faces give a clear cut picture to the story. For instance, he has painted Justice Sotomayor of USA, Madan Kataria, Barack Obama, Younis Mahmou and other people who have had a major role to play in politics around the globe. This is an indication of the artist’s interest in politics and related issues. His series, ‘The Petro Angel’ is inspired from the plight and suffering borne by the women in Tehran. Many of his works have focused on the situation and turmoil in Tehran and the surrounding areas. Also the names given to the paintings like Systematic Citizen XII, Onlyness, Rebellious Fun and the like give his paintings a voice of their own.

Riyas Komu, Untitled (Red Girl).