Sculptor Arunkumar HG lives in bustling Gurgaon but grew up on a farm in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It influenced his artworks and inspired a desire to work with unconventional materials including plants, sugar cubes and plastic bottle caps.
For Seeds of Reckoning, Arunkumar has fashioned installations from seeds and fallen leaves, which cover maximum space in the gallery. “It’s a critique on mono-culture wherein we focus on the same kinds of seeds and trees, because they fetch more revenue or grow faster. But in the process we are sidelining other important plants and losing our thousand-year-old ecological diversity,” explains the 45-year-old sculptor, an alumnus of Baroda’s MS University who has travelled across Asia with his artworks.
Near his farm, Arunkumar saw the imbalance from genetic engineering, patenting of certain seeds, and the impact of agricultural monopolies on seed and plant types. That’s when he set out on a mission to collect diverse seeds. “Viewers can identify a variety of lesser-known plants. It’s a world in itself, full of colour and in diverse shapes. In a normal cycle, fallen leaves go back into the earth and make the earth fertile. But humans have focused on only planting edible seeds like popular versions of rice and wheat. Few are aware of the thousands of substitutes for conventional processed rice and wheat,” he rues.
Arunkumar admits that this monopoly of seeds also affects the earth: “Several plants don’t require maintenance and are easy to grow. They don’t burden the soil,” he elaborates.
Apart from the installations, Arunkumar’s book, The Story of Tract (2011) will be on display, which features 95 images of habitats and plants.