Anup Mathew Thomas (born 1977) is a visual artist who lives and works in Bangalore. Thomas graduated from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore in 2003 and has stayed largely with photography as his medium of choice. Predominantly producing work in series, Thomas’s photographs conceal an innate critique of their subject matter, engaging often with narratives that are seemingly and instinctively local but reverberate within a more inclusive context. Thomas’s works are often presented as digital slideshows as well as prints.
In 2006, Thomas received the Charles Wallace India Trust scholarship to be an artist-in-residence at Gasworks in London. He was also a resident artist at the Vasl International artist residency in Lahore the same year. Anup Mathew Thomas’s work was also part of the inaugural edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale. 2012. He is a recipient of the 2014 The Abraaj Group Art Prize.
Through his photography, Anup presents images that are both personal and specific but that also ask broader cultural questions. Drawing on various genres including photojournalism, documentary, and fashion, his work presents a diverse set of approaches to the human subject. In presenting his work as projected images as well as prints, Mathew Thomas also brings a reflexive engagement with the modalities and history of his chosen medium.
In 2005, during the Khoj two-week international artists’ workshop in Mumbai, India, Mathew Thomas developed LightLife – a photo installation on the dance bars of Mumbai. Around the time of the workshop, the Maharashtra government (the state where Mumbai is located) had ordered for a closure of Mumbai’s dance bars, ‘saying they corrupt young men and breed crime and prostitution’. The photographs in LightLife capture the dance bars ‘alive’ with scintillating lights and shimmering colours but devoid of any human presence. As the photographs cross-faded into each other the lights created a hauntingly poetic sense of motion. The work encourages reflection on the politics of moral censure even as it explores unused spaces that lurk within our larger urban experience.