Under the Vastness of Sky: Himmat Shah retrospective of six decades travels to Patna

The exhibition Under the Vastness of Sky, a tribute to 86-year-old artist Himmat Shah will be brought to Bihar's capital in a collaboration between Bihar Museum and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.
Himmat Shah (Photo Source: KNMA)
Himmat Shah (Photo Source: KNMA)

Patna, March 29: Visible in his rich oeuvre, the free-spiritedness of 86-year-old artist Himmat Shah took shape when he explored the landscapes of Gujarat and Rajasthan. A tribute to this solitary pursuit, a six-decade retrospective exhibition will open here on April 2.

The comprehensive exhibition Under the Vastness of Sky will be brought to Bihar's capital in a collaboration between Bihar Museum and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA).

As per curator Roobina Karode, Himmat Shah, known for his sculptural Head series, wandered and lived amidst the ruins of the pre-historic sites of Gujarat's Lothal (one of the prominent cities of Indus Valley Civilisation) on farmlands in arid desert environments, in the wilderness of the dense jungles of Dang and Gir, processing emotions of fear, uncertainty and danger.

Celebrating this free-spiritedness, the two-month expo will celebrate Himmat Shah's inspiring nomadic life lived under an open sky that transformed into the vastness and infinity of space in his work. 

It presents around 200 works from the KNMA collection along with loans from the artist. Besides his famous terracotta sculptures, bronzes and drawings, it brings to light his lesser-known mediums and extraordinary body of works - high-relief murals, burnt paper collages, prints and silver paintings.

The selection spans over almost six decades; starting from his early burnt paper collages that he exhibited in the famous Group 1890 exhibition at Lalit Kala Akademi in 1964 to the few surviving silver paintings that will be exhibited for the first time since 1973.

Though trained in painting, Himmat Shah turned to exploring new mediums right after completing his formal education. The exhibition showcases a number of seminal terracotta sculptures from "Head" series to small found objects, vessels and containers.

The exhibition includes around 100 drawings, made from 1957 when he was a student at the Fine Arts Faculty in Vadodara to his most recent works in 2015. They are referenced as anchor-points for the entire exhibition.

Also presented is a gallery of portraits, bronze heads, projected as maquettes of possible future buildings, and his monumental bronze sculptures.

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As per art patron and collector Kiran Nadar, Himmat Shah's individualistic and unique contribution to the discourse of Indian art needs a larger audience - something that this retrospective aspires to resolve.

The KNMA-curated exhibition has previously travelled to cities like Jaipur and Delhi. It will be on display at the Bihar Museum here from April 2 to June 2 during 10 am to 5 pm (except Mondays and public holidays).

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