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Kumari Nahappan

Kumari Nahappan

Kumari is a prominent artist in Southeast Asia. Her practice encompasses inter- disciplinary genres, painting, sculpture and installations. She has forged a reputation for effectively reconciling the language of “international contemporary art” with her own vocabulary and developing a visual identity that is decisively shaped by her cultural roots and beliefs.

Kumari is celebrated for her iconic sculptures in landmark locations in Singapore including Saga for Changi Airport, Nutmeg & Mace for the ION Orchard, Pedas-Pedas for the National Museum and Pembungaan for OUE Bayfront (the largest bronze mural in Singapore at over 45m) and other sculptures for corporate developments. Her sculptures have graced sites overseas including G Tower in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the J.Y. Campos Centre in Manila (the Philippines), and Zongshan Park in Shanghai (China).

Kumari has received commendations in the Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards & UOB Painting of the Year. She holds the honour of being the first foreigner and woman to be conferred the Ksatria Seni Award (2004) by the Museum Rudana in Bali. In 2011, she won the Artist of the Year Award in the 15th edition of the Shanghai Art Fair and was identified as a notable female artist in the book Women Artists in Singapore [2011].

For more than three decades, Kumari’s artistic journey has seen her develop an extensive body of works, including paintings, sculptures and installations which have been exhibited internationally such as the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Seoul Art Centre in Korea, Museum Rudana in Bali, Museum der Kulturen in Basel and Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. In 2013, she enjoyed critical and popular acclaim for her installation Anahata, a monumental work comprising of 4000kg of saga seeds for the Singapore Biennale 2013. Her works have been exhibited at museums as well as in galleries in Sweden, Germany, London, Italy, New York, Australia, Hong Kong and China.

In her exhibition “CHANTING: ROSARY” at ANIMA MUNDI International Art Festival which was organised by Liquid Group in Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi in Venice, Italy (2017), Kumari explored the idea of “seeds in rituals” in the form of a rosary bead to travel to Venice. In 2018, the ‘journey of the saga’ continued, where 30 of her saga seeds found a permanent home at The Sanchaya, Bintan, Indonesia.

In 2019, Kumari was invited by the European Cultural Foundation to exhibit in Personal Structures which ran parallel to the Venice Biennale. Kumari’s monumental sculpture named Talktime was exhibited at The Marinaressa gardens, Venice. The sculpture on its return will find a home in Jurong Lake Garden Singapore, sometime in 2020.

She was also invited by the Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore in an exhibition called “From the Coromandel Coast to the Straits: Revisiting Our Tamil Heritage”. An installation titled Masala was created by Kumari to create an experiential spice garden, celebrating a historical and cultural blend of spices to create a fascinating journey in the spice trail.

Recently, Kumari was commissioned by National Parks Board to create a family of three saga seeds to be placed in Como Adventure Grove by the Gallop Entrance of Singapore Botanic Garden. Soon after that she created ‘SARANGGONG’ as a site-specific 3.3 m sculpture for One Farrer Hotel in Singapore.

Artist Works

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