Sculptor KS Radhakrishnan's solo show Ephemera at Art Multi-disciplines, Kolkata
Born in Kerala, brought up in Bengal and living in Delhi for most part of his professional life, migration and its effects have always haunted celebrated sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan as an artist. A vast majority of his works deals with this subject and his latest show, Ephemera, that starts from today, too, deals with migration and the transient nature of being.
Trained under stalwarts such as Ramkinkar Baij and Sarbari Roy Chowdhury at Santiniketan’s Kala Bhavan, the 62-year-old artist is one of the tallest figures of Indian contemporary art. Radhakrishnan's move to Delhi in 1981 with a grant from Lalit Kala Akademi to work in Garhi village exposed him to diverse artistic practices and since then, the maverick sculptor has had more than 15 solo shows and numerous group shows across the country and abroad including China and France. A frequent traveller, he renders a sensuous quality to his works with extraordinary movements of his figures.
Ephemera is the story of current times, where global migration of the dispossessed people has become a norm of the society. On display at Art Multi-disciplines gallery at Bijoygarhtill March 1, this exhibit is a first of its kind in the country, claimd young curator Ayan Mukherjee, who has conceptualised the show. “Exhibitions usually have a narrative with a fixed story line and a subjective concept. Here we have only a single work which has been left open to interpretation of the viewer,” says Ayan. Featuring a single sculpture strewn with several stories, the eight-feet-tall and 10-feet-long imposing installation deals with thetransient nature of human possessions, obsessions and career, besides the precariousness of life itself.
For a while now, Radhakrishnan’s work has been focussing primarily on two subjects – individual Musui (man) Maiya (woman) figures, ranging from small intimate scale to lofty dimensions, and multitude of figures in migration, which throws light on the collective whole of the masses. In the collective figures the bodies possess no gender or religious identity and are devoid of exclusiveness. In his hall mark style, Radhakrishnan uses the ascending ramp form as the metaphorical oceanic surface with the flatness of glistening bronze tiles virtually creating an ensemble of waves.
Radhakrishnan has always used an elevated structure to create a sublime effect, depicting the transitional phase that men go through before deliverance. His ambitious open air public sculptures including Kala-Pravaham (Time Tide) in Mananchira in Kozhikode is a prime example in case. While his other works might have a spiritual connotations, in Ephemera there is a subtle emphasis on the futility of material and sociopolitical pursuits, too.
The entire sculpture is made of bronze and looks like a street lamp spotlighting tiny, winged insect-like miniature human figurines in various shapes afloat on rough sea and rising up helplessly like foam. Just like the short-lived insects that gather around the street lights at night, the sculpture tends to stress on the temporary and unpredictable nature of life, where one is never sure of how it will end. Even the tiny boats -- on which the miniature figures are treading the rough waters -- are variously placed, with one turning sideways, one riding the high waves while the other seeming to be charting an unknown course.“The boats in the sculpture, partly submerged, are seen struggling towards a lamp post, a metaphor of good hope. But the precariousness is palpable for none including the artist knows whether those in the boats would finally reach the destinations they always dreamt of,” feels Ayan.
Ephemera will be on display at Art Multi-disciplines till March 1 (Sundays closed)