Telling sculpture through stories

inspired from the French Movie : 400 blows or Les Quatre cents coups
inspired from the French Movie : 400 blows or Les Quatre cents coups

There was a brief period as a ceramic artist a few years ago I became obsessed with the staircase motif in my work. I constantly thought and dreamt of stairs and ladders and thought of new ways to express them through clay.

I threw bowls and put a ladder in them, made towers and abstract forms and boxes and slabs and more bowls and more forms with ladders, steps, stairs and pathways in them, trying to exhaust myself with this idea, and each time a work was finished, my energy was renewed magically.

In the work I was churning out, there was a thin line between a surreal sculptural piece and a doll house, and I tried very hard, consciously steering clear of the latter, by not overworking a piece or purposely constructing them in an illogical way.

As I delved deeper into construction I found myself wanting to travel within the spaces I was creating, but of course that was not possible in the literal sense.

Which set me off in yet another direction, “transforming sculptures into events”.

Since the pieces were like little replicas or fossil like remains of buildings and structures and habitable spaces, I decided to give in to the temptation of a doll house, and create my own characters or dolls.

The easiest way to achieve this was to make these characters act out an event on the sculptures.

The kind of events that would take place would be a part of the fictional world we confront in movies, comic books, literature and folk tales.

It’s through the characters the sculptures come alive, and the viewers start interacting with the ceramic piece.

shown in PIX Quaterly @ Max Muller , Delhi
shown in PIX Quaterly @ Max Muller , Delhi

The continual use of the staircase /ladder is the key element which binds all the forms together binding it as one body of work.

The stair is an indispensable element to the piece, its through it, the character travels with in the form and navigates the spaces created. The characters ascend and descend the form, inhabit and explore the form for us.

People made out of paper unlike those made of clay have an advantage I can draw out a character, cut him or her out, changing its mood and action with each drawing and if , for some reason it doesn’t suffice another one can be manufactured quickly.

The idea of using a material like paper which today is throw-away, momentary, fleeting and using it with ceramic which is sophisticated, solid, lasts forever made good partners for a photo-illustrative project brewing in my head.

Therefore the illustrated characters inhabiting the sculptures are not an eternal part of the form, they are a memory, a vision, with them we travel to the depths of a bowl, climb a minuscule ladder, morph into creatures, chase gangsters or get chased ourselves, and the story or the happening ends up being an sequelized event, its only at the end of storytelling , when the viewer will look away from the story board, and looks at just the pure form will he or she have created a memory , that yes something happened here, and that it happened in the relam of their minds.

All of a sudden the ceramic piece is not just what it is,

From the movie 400 Blows
From the movie 400 Blows

The works are architectural by the virtue of elements like peepholes, windows, arches, ledges and by the use of winged forms, which add to the illusion .The spaces created are believable yet the illusion of being real is shattered with the addition of surreal components like doors which open to nothing, or staircases which lead to nowhere in particular, windows impossible to reach, ledges running in and out with no apparent logic.

This work was featured in PIX Quarterly 2011 issue and made it to the cover page.The images were photographed by Swarup Dutta.


To read the full article and see the images as they appeared in the Imaginaries issue, please go here:

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