Structures of change at Delhi Arts Society’s sculpture exhibition


Express News Service

Transforming the beautiful garden of Gandhi-King Plaza at the India International Centre (IIC), Max Mueller Marg, into a thought-provoking sculpture court, ‘iSculpt for Delhi’ is back in the city with its third edition. This highly-anticipated exhibition—organised by the Delhi Arts Society, it started on Sunday and will be on display till December 18—features intriguing, experimental works by 20 sculptors and three photographers. Inaugurated by Muzaffar Ali, the illustrious film director said, “It is wonderful to see this gorgeous array of sculptures here. It is very difficult to tell the difference between nature and the creation of man.”

Elaborating on what inspired her to curate such a show, Uma Nair shared, “I went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC years ago, and I saw the sculpture court. It was always in the back of my head that even in India, we can create a sculpture court out of a garden. For iSculpt, I wanted something that gave both beauty and peace to anyone looking at it.“ 

Giving us more insight into her curatorial experience and how she selected the sculptures for the show, Nair mentioned, “I look for a standalone piece that can speak and has a message to give. Sculpture is about expression, it is about composition. When I pick up works for a show, I am very careful about picking works that have a certain strength.”

Masterful craftsmanship

At the entrance to IIC, a sculpture titled ‘Heaven and Earth’ by Neeraj Gupta, President of the Delhi Arts Society, features an elephant laden with pots, dipping its trunk into a handi [a pot used for cooking], beseeching its viewers to call for the conservation of endangered elephants. From there, the eye naturally moves to a large tree standing tall inside Gandhi Plaza’s garden, which, upon closer inspection, is Satish Gupta’s work titled ‘Conference of the Birds’. True to its name, the tree has birds both on its branches and at its base. An ode to the Sufi poem ‘Conference of the Birds’, written in 1177 AD by Farid ud-Din Attar, the work has themes of spirituality and man’s journey to unite with god. 

Works by artists including Seema Kohli, Keshari Nanda, Atul Sinha, Ankon Mitra, Rahul Modak, and Dhananjay Singh, among others, are spread throughout the garden. Nimesh Pilla’s work has a proud griffin—a winged lion—with birds emerging from its wings. Describing his piece, he commented, “How do you symbolise power? If you look at mythology, wings symbolise you have a power beyond yourself. The birds symbolise peace. While you have power, you also have the responsibility of taking care of peace. ” 

Talking about what inspires him Pilla added, “I hear a lot of my friends say ‘I used to do this in school’. Your work should not stop you from doing things. This is why I try to be a part of these exhibitions. Through my work, I want to inspire others and say ‘If I can do this, so can you’.”

Shikha Sinha, an artist who visited the inauguration of this exhibition, said, “It is a very interesting exhibition. The sculptures are very conceptual, which I like,” adding that she was intrigued by the texture and colours of Brajesh Verman’s ‘Vande Mataram’.

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