Anju and the magic she creates at the potter’s wheel
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Anju and the magic she creates at the potter’s wheel

She displayed her work in her first solo show way back in 1990. Today, she has gone beyond 90 solos.

Anju and the magic she creates at the potter’s wheel

Amid bustling Gurugram life, a large space breathes the earthly and cool fragrance of clay sculptures, and artistic pottery pieces. The ambience of abstract paintings give a sense of another world. Yet this is no dream, but the art gallery of Anju Kumar, a self taught artist who adds her magic to ordinary clay.

For more than three decades Anju Kumar (58) has been creating her artistic pottery pieces, abstract low relief paintings and clay sculptures. Her creativity is on permanent display at the basement gallery of her South City 1, Gurugram, home. She displayed her work in her first solo show way back in 1990. Today, she has gone beyond 90 solo shows.

Over the years, Anju has given vent to her creativity in many forms. Apart from creating artistic pottery pieces, she has also created paintings, sculptures, and murals. Her signature style is the creation of pottery which has been termed as functional, usable and liveable. This means that she creates pieces of pottery that are to be used as tables, for sitting on, like lampshades, and for storing things.

“I have always tried to create art that is functional. This I think is a great way to add art to your daily life and surroundings,” says she. Anju is most well-known for churning out planters and vases. Some of these vases are six feet high. During Diwali days she makes tulsi chauras, urlis and Lakshmi Ganeshas.

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Over the years she has been using an earthly palette for her pottery. Her pottery has extensive use of ivory, vanilla, mocha, and a monochromatic colour scheme of pastels and neutral tones. This is something that makes her creations easy on the eyes.

Her sculptures made of resin are predominantly human figures with some distortions adding to their emotional content. She also creates sculptures of Buddha and Ganesha, her perennial favorites, in a rich variety of styles.

Anju’s paintings on the other hand are totally abstract works with geometrical shapes giving them a depth of emotions and meaning. She gives a layering of cold ceramic on the canvass, which gives it a low relief texture. Then she paints over it with oil or acrylic paint. Says Anju, “The emotional content of my work has definitely increased in the recent past which is a reflection of what goes on in my life.”

Credits: Asheesh Mamgain

When it comes to her paintings, her palette expands to include a rich tapestry of bright hues. Her murals, having muted colours and stone finish also stand out. Anju is an expert when it comes to creating textures on her pottery pieces. Sometimes it is very intricate, which is time-consuming and requires buckets of patience to execute. Says she, “Yes it is tough work, but I love doing it. That is why many a time when I am working I lose all sense of time. I have innumerable days in my studio, where a whole day is spent creating stuff. I do get tired physically but the amount of satisfaction I get at the end of the day seeing what I have created cannot be measured in any terms.”

Anju is totally self-taught as a pottery maker with no formal training. “I have learned a lot by watching artisans at work from Kumhar Colony, in Uttam Nagar and Mohan Garden, in South West Delhi. I started by just painting some planters and vases. Then I got interested in pottery and started to look for ways to learn it. That led me to the potter’s colony. There I had hands-on training on the potter’s wheel from those traditional potters,” says she.

With a range of colours still left to explore, Anju's journey will go a long way!