Two recent sculpture shows in the city, one after the other, indicated that this plastic art, usually no more than an afterthought at group events, could now claim the attention of collectors. The first, at Maya Art Space, presented Samir Aich who had set aside his paint and canvas to turn to metal. The second, hosted by Sensorium at Weavers’ Studio, brought together different generations of sculptors, from seniors like Shankar Ghosh and Tapos Sarkar to art school undergraduates.
Those familiar with Aich’s art would have known that this wasn’t the first time he had explored 3-D expressions and would particularly have remembered the fibreglass installation he had made several years ago. This time, though, the scale was more modest, but bore the painter’s signature quite clearly in that some of his earlier images were carried over into metal, brass and bronze. A battered kettle that spewed a thick mass of tiny metal balls and wire, a gnarled old period car metamorphosed into a monstrous creature by the macabre pungency of his imagination brought into focus his concern with flux, impermanence, the inevitability of decay.
Indeed, a touch of the macabre was seen to subvert meticulous representations into somewhat unsettling images. The best example to cite would be the disembodied hand with a pock marked surface which brought Robert Gober to mind along with the suggestion of severed body parts at disaster sites, very much a contemporary phenomenon. Not surprisingly, however, his experiments with metal worked best without fussy embellishments.
There was much to engage the viewer at Weavers’. And the first sculptor to mention is Barun Pramanick for the way his small galloping horses with riders suspended on sticks seemed to charge forward at great speed. No less compelling for their lithe grace and off-centre balance were the bronzes of Chaitali Chanda who went from fantasy in Dive to sketching an everyday moment in After Bath. The everyday cameo was Asim Basu’s forte, too, as he accented the subtle tension in the rhythm of body contortions.
Debabrata De’s emaciated canine mother and her suckling pups, scrambling to get their nourishment (picture), was a tableau of little details, while there was humour in his depiction of Ganesh as a paunchy bhadralok of leisure. Debasish Sarkar was quite inventive in his abstraction in depicting goddess Kali with looping strands of bronze and a protruding tongue.
Subir Mandal’s Rest evoked the killing boredom and burden of heavy academics, and Subrata Biswas revealed a quaint eye for boyhood amusement. If Guruprasad Dey provoked viewers by portraying homosexual love, Swapan Maity emphasized clean lines in his stone owl. In Subrata Paul’s giraffe heads one noticed the textural variations, and diverse themes were addressed by Somnath Chakraborty with lively variations in style.