Anjali Ponni Rajkumar talks about her personalised paintings and family portraits
It begins with a saliva sample. Anjali Ponni Rajkumar dons a pair of gloves and starts making art with the DNA samples given to her. “We first get a banding pattern and then we work on the art, with a backdrop created with oil paints. The DNA is added digitally. This is then finished on canvas to the size that the client wants,” explains Rajkumar, who also uses acrylics and charcoal. Only a few months old, her enterprise, Tag C, offers art with footprints, thumbprints, lipstick marks etc.
What does Tag C mean? “It’s about ‘tagging you’. TAG and C also stand for Thymine, Adenine, Guanine and Cytosine, which are the nucleotides that make up your DNA,” explain the artist, who also has another line of paintings, under the name Aswatha, made from oil, charcoal and digital. For these, she adds a spiritual or scientific angle to her work. “My last series, Akarma, was showcased at Gallery Veda’s space on OMR, a collaborative effort with Shilpa Architects. The Akarma series is about your journey through life, without attachment. A series that I worked on simultaneously and continue to do so is Mind, about human inventions that set homo-sapiens apart and give them a false sense of security as the dominant species,” says Rajkumar, 35.
As for the DNA experiment, it is seeing some takers here, but not as many as abroad, where this format was introduced way back in 2005. In fact, artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg recently used DNA she found strewn around New York City — from cigarette butts to strands of hair — to create crude 3-D models of their appearances.
Most of Rajkumar’s customised paintings are for families and children. ‘‘They give me specifications like ‘it is for an empty white wall’, or to add ‘blue’, etc. They also give me DNA samples of the family, so I make one large painting,’’ she adds. Orders can also be placed on her Facebook page. With a varied background, Rajkumar has a bachelors in business and art from Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, which is where she learned to make DNA art, and a masters in biotechnology. She went on to work at the neurology department at the hospital at University of Pennsylvania. When not at her studio, she does art therapy for patients and volunteers at schools.
It takes 10 days for a painting priced from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000. Size of the paintings vary from 20×20 inches to 40×40 inches. Details: facebook.com/DNAtagc