Friday, December 3, 2021

Umesh Kumar's 'Hortus Mythos Indica' Book Launch

 " Department of Inter-dimensional Botany "

An exhibition of Magical herbology illustrations, sculptures and illustrated Books launch
Opens friday 3rd dec 2021, 6:30pm
Show continues 4th to 7th dec 11am to 7:30pm
@ 1Shanthiroad studio gallery, Bangalore

Illustrated book of Imaginary magical herbology
with 81 illustrations and texts.
This set of illustrations and book is about Magical fantasy, Healing and inter-dimensionality.
Hortus Mythos Indica : Imaginary annotations form Indian mythologies and other Indias is a set of 53 illustrations with texts for each.
This set of illustrations and book is an attempt to imagine and also rewrite mythology and the multiple other Indias in a creative way. This is also to bring in an intermingling of various dimensions in terms of the various Indias we live in imaginatively and in reality.

Umesh Kumar’s "Hortus Mythos Indica" is filled with magical flora that can heal our ailments, grant our deepest desires, and sometimes go beyond and cause hilarious and irreversible side effects. An unusual amalgam of a grandmother's remedial cookbook, a botanical handbook, and at times subaltern polemics. The illustrations whet our appetite for visual information but in a guarded manner. The images range from subdued flowers that perform yoga asanas to surprisingly vibrant forests that make you amorous.

The book is an ode to times that held the possibility of magical transformation, stumbled upon treasures in unknown realms, and discoveries; lush forests and impenetrable villages are a recurring theme in the book. We live in a world with few untouched forests at a time when herbs in our kitchens are in an attempt to be patented. These pages offer a chance to slip into that magical realm where all things are possible and things that aren't possible are easily explained why.

“Magical herbology” is an Occidental twin to the book "Hortus Mythos Indica" and it has a markedly different attitude. The book is an ode to those foreign books that brought us stories and creatures and magical peas that made you big or small, and princesses who needed that particular flower to wake from their comatose sleep.

The book offers an alternate worldview when seen together with Hortus Mythos Indica. Here the pages offer something close to a Neopagan and a multi-dimensional universe constructed by an artist/author in a globalised South Asia.

Umesh concocts a world of details in his imagination of these florae that apparently live a thousand miles away in lands that many of us have never stepped in. I would call this a literary and artistic subversion at its very best.

- Dhanya Rajaram.