“The art or process of creating representational or abstract forms, either in the round or in relief” once upon a time sufficed to define the word sculpture. That was when it did not have as diverse practices as body art and video installation, light sculpture, sound sculpture and kinetic sculpture coming within its widening scope, enriching and infusing it with an explosive energy.
As installation art gained popularity the viewer began to experience sculpture in a way that brought about a paradigm shift in the ‘gaze’. In 1961, American minimalistic artist Don Flavin used fluorescent light fixtures to create his Icon series and marked the beginning of light sculpture. In the 70s, Yuri Kalendarev, created a unique kind of sculpture with sound vibrations. Then, at the close of the century, Tyson mounted his sensational 12 foot high enamel sprayed black column housing a series of computers, which he called The Thinker. Art as sculpture redefined itself once again. From India too, the likes of Anish Kapoor, Subodh Gupta and T.V Santosh have created waves internationally. It is sometimes hard to draw the line between iconoclasts and sensationalists. Some ride on the winds of change with artfulness rather than artistic excellence, collecting fame in the short term while others drive change, rearranging the learnings from the past with insight and innovation.
This issue of artVarta projects some of the “better known masters of novel ideas” as articulated by Dhruva Mistry. We have traced the lineage of the various schools of artistic practices that developed in the important art centres in India. In Santiniketan, the growth and development of sculpture was led by Ramkinkar Baij, Pradosh Dasgupta, Chintamani Kar, Sankho Choudhury and Meera Mukherjee among others. In form, content and material they shaped future generations. The Madras Movement of Art introduced modernism to art in South India and the Government School of Arts and Crafts then had Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury at the helm who fused Bengal School’s humanism with the strength of European masters to script a new language. In Baroda, the pioneer was Sankho Chaudhury who generated a dynamic space through juxtaposition of solids and voids.
We have concentrated on “the committed sculptors of the eighties” who wrought meaningful change. We are carrying interviews and articles on Mrinalini Mukherjee, Trupti Patel, Prithpal S. Ladi , P.R. Daroz. K.S. Radhakrishnan and Sarbari Roy Choudhury are covered in our book reviews. Himmat Shah who began working in 1956 was a crossover artist, a printmaker turned sculptor, who has done India proud. We are happy to bring you a glimpse of Shah.
Adip Dutta and Debanjan Roy are Kolkata based sculptors with edge and attitude. artVarta has caught them face to face in the mood for an adda.
There are write-ups on some emerging artists who are on their way to becoming the markers of the sculptural evolution.
We hope we will be able to bring you more on sculptural practices in later issues too. There is so much taking shape with brave new artists breaking boundaries and pushing back the horizon.