Anshuman Kar, a non-verbal painter with autism, reveals hidden depths of feeling in his art
Anshuman Kar is an emerging young artist on the autism spectrum who is slowly and steadily making a name for himself at many prestigious international exhibitions. Anshuman, who posts his work on Instagram as Awesome Artist Ashu, does abstract art using colours and strokes that are open to many interpretations.
Anshuman Kar is non-verbal but a look at the bold patterns, happy colours and vivid textures he uses gives you an insight into his rich inner life.
“He just loves the touch of colour on paper”, says Shaloo Sharma, Anshuman’s art teacher and Founder-Director of Evoluer Solutions, which conducts skilling and educational programmes for disabled youth. “He is absolutely relaxed while painting and I can see that his hands are flowing, and his strokes relaxed. To a layman it looks like he’s going all over the place but there is a method even when he is doing messy work. He has his own distinctive style”.
That distinctive style is already getting 23-year-old Anshuman noticed. His Instagram page Awesome Artist Ashu is filled with praise and he has displayed his work at exhibitions in India and the Middle East. Anshuman is preparing for shows in Australia and New Zealand.
No hope, said experts
Communication for Anshuman, says mom Sushmita Kar, has taken the form of art. “Ashu’s artwork is warm, vibrant, bright and soothing to the eyes and the soul”, she says with pride, understandable given the huge challenges the Kars faced in his early years.
Ashu was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was three and we were told he would have to be in an institution as he was incapable of learning anything. Some relatives even told us we should tie him to a banyan tree and do some rituals. We were shattered but I was determined to teach him to him communicate things he likes. – Sushmita Kar, Anshuman Kar’s mother
Sushmita quit her job and stayed home to look after Anshuman better. Soon after, her husband got a job transfer to New Zealand. The young couple grabbed the opportunity to raise their son in an atmosphere free of the negativity around. “We felt we could raise him like a regular child there. In New Zealand, Anshuman went to an integrated school with a special needs’ unit. We did regular things like go to the park, the local library, etc”.
Relocation to New Zealand
Over time, the Kars realised how social their child was. “Anshuman doesn’t speak but loves to meet people, go out and eat”. They introduced him to swimming which he loved and many other physical activities.
Adolescence brought with it a major setback. “When Anshuman was 13, he started having seizures”, says Sushmita. “Autism was still manageable, but this could lead to your child getting physically harmed and this development shattered us”.
The Kars came back to India realising the need for family support. They lived in Delhi where Anshuman attended Tamanna, a school for children with disabilities. He started using an iPad for basic communication and alongside showed great interest in art, choosing bright and vivid colours to showcase his abstract art. A supported skill development programme helped hone this talent further and his work started getting noticed.
Nidhi Gupta, mother to a child with autism, is among those who looks forward to his work. “My son is fond of colours too and I saw Anshuman’s work at an exhibition organised by Action for Autism (AFA). “I like the abstractness of his work and his choice of colours and the way they come up on canvas and paper is striking. His work is open to interpretation and that appeals a lot to me”.
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