A Look Into Rajat Kumar Ghosh’s Talented Workby Opinion Express December 11, 2018 0 comments
The terracotta work presented by Raj Kumar Ghosh stands as a symbol of exactly what a sculpture should be.
Along with the historic Chehre exhibition, NGMA’s Roopantar has plenty to explore and ponder over. Director General Adwaita Gadanayak, who completed two years of his tenure at the NGMA, has amply proved that it is important to have exhibitions that showcase the archival strength of the repository of the NGMA collection.
If six exhibitions in an entire year areanything to go by, it is indeed a testimony to the insight and intensity of a vision that wants to keep an eye on the past as well bring forward the merit and vitality of India’s sculptural sensibilities. Gadanayak, an eminent sculptor who recently designed the National Police Memorial, has a significant standing in the contemporary arts. The reserve collection of the NGMA, Roopantar, is a revelation. Gadayanak believes that sculpture has not received enough due and wants to correct that.
“The sculptures represented here is a step further to showcase the hidden treasures of our reserve collection. It all began with the exhibition titled, Itihaas, which was NGMA’s celebration of its 63 years. The first exhibition that happened after I took charge as DG, NGMA. My quest has always been to reflect the treasure trove of the NGMA’s repertoire. This creative and wonderful journey of representing the treasures has continued with several such exhibitions and Roopantar is one such which I believe will take this journey to greater heights. I present this exhibition as a tribute to our modern masters and firmly believe that this would generate greater interest among people towards the legacy of sculpture as a creative medium,” mentions Gadanayak.
The exhibition has a lot of work to see but it is the inclusion of a set of terracotta sculptures that invites scrutiny and gaze. The primary focus of figuratives in the show merits an important observation related to the origins of sculpture in the Indian subcontinent. It brings back the spotlight on “plastic art.” This first emphasis on vitality of the whole figure is important, because it characterises almost all the later art, recalling the ancient terracotta figures of the hump bull exuding a forceful expression in the Indus Valley civilisation.
Unabashed and unapologetic
While small and quaint, it is the veteran sculptor Rajat Kumar Ghosh’s terracotta work that stands as a symbol of sculptonic identity and intensity. The beauty of terracotta is its tactile qualities. Its textural nuances that come to the fore. In one image, the jewelled woman has in her hand a little rabbit and at once it is a statement of harmony and the beauty of sensitivity in the telling of tale.
Ghosh, a sculptor, a National Award winner of the year 1984 has once been famous. His unapologetic installation of the Dalit king commissioned by the Bihar government as part of its centennial celebrations in 2013 was proof of his mettle as an artist, whose work was about the forgotten heroes of history like the story of Hirni Birni. His most famous work, Raja Shailesh, the king of Dusadh community in ancient Mithila, would greet visitors at Eco Park.
Ghosh, a 1978 alumnus of Patna College of Arts and Crafts made the statue of the Dalit king in 2012. It was on display during the Bihar Divas celebrations. It was an ode to a Dalit king — raw and unabashed — it wasn’t polite art.
Ghosh always maintained that Indian cultural heritage was succinct in the narratives presented by sculptures. In an interview he once said, “Earlier, those at the helm of affairs better understood art in terms of utility as well, since the sculptures can preserve and propagate the history and cultural traditions of a particular era, highlighting the significance of visual art in life, society and the nation. Sadly, authorities in many states lack appreciation for artworks. My own creations installed at public venues in Bihar are now in a dilapidated condition.”
Woman with rabbit
Ghosh’s portrait of a woman with a rabbit unveils the communication of the process of knowing that realistic narratives inform and educate the creation in the hands of a sculptor, it also seems to offer a deeper experience to the onlooker, because the creation of the expression and the gesture of love both call upon all the faculties in us to be alive to the processes in which the artist is engaged. Ghosh’s single sculpted work talks to us about the aesthetic of creative sculpture which opens up new areas of awareness to the sensibility, as well as a deepening of an inner life, thus drawing attention to the intensity of an artist’s consciousness, enriching emotions, and the refinement of understanding the integration of the human figure as an enduring image.
There are other terracotta works too like Seasonal Beggar by Panwar Govardhan Singh and sculptor Shyamal’s evocative Untitled woman seated on a chair. Spanning across diverse mediums and time frames, the works Horse Head by Ram Kinkar Baij, Frustration by M Dharmani, Chakraa by Balbir Singh Katt, Seed by Nagji Patel, Figure Lifting Foot by Leela Mukherjee and Putna Wadha by Ishwar Chandra Gouta are some of the key works on view and are cast in different materials.
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer