Rohan Kumara was born in Sri Lanka and was adopted by a Dutch family shortly after. Growing up, he experienced severe trauma and was diagnosed with autism at the age of twenty. His artistic journey began under the loving guidance of his art therapy teacher, who encouraged him to process his emotions through drawing and painting. “I hope you feel bad” she coddles him “because that’s when you make your best art.” Kumara’s artwork possesses a strikingly raw quality; its anguished cries of pain are like chalk screeches on a blackboard: so loud and strident we almost have to cover our ears. Using a combination of acrylics, pastels, inks, oils, and charcoal, Kumara crafts abstract compositions alternating collage, thick markings, and expressive brushstrokes. When figures are visible, they are placed at the center of the piece, fighting back against what appears to be a cascade of stalactites or swords. They triumph in the end, true to Kumara’s spirit “All my freedom was taken away from me, but never, ever have I given up.”
Kumara resides in Diemen, Netherlands. He was awarded the Rabobank Art Award in 2015 and was nominated for the Gelderse Art Award in 2016. He counts several exhibitions in Amsterdam and is slated to exhibit in Lisbon at Colorida Art Gallery in February 2022. His painting “Keep the Calm in the Chaos” will be auctioned off at the Netherland America Foundation, in New York, in November 2021.