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Sculpting their way to glory

India has a rich tradition of sculpture, both classical and contemporary, and Himmat Shah symbolizes a blend of the two. Trained initially as a painter, he chose sculpture as a medium of expression, even though it was not popular five decades ago. Though survival was an issue, Himmat Shah, true to his name, showed great spirit to retain his passion for the art form.

Versatile and highly creative, Shah is enamored especially by the earthiness of the terracota medium that holds for him the echoes of the lost world. He enjoys inscribing his simple, often brutal forms progressively with invented and impressed textures, beautifully absorbed by the moist clay, he is one of leading contemporary artists who continues to work on innovative forms by experimenting with material like bronze, ceramic, terracotta or stone.

The two new solo shows by two of the established sculptors bring the art form back in focus. Himmat Shah has designed and executed monumental murals in brick, cement and concrete at St. Xavier's school Ahmedabad in the late sixties. Since then he has worked on relief and sculpture in plaster, terracotta and ceramics.

Himmat Shah's works on view amply bring out various facets of the septuagenarian oeuvre of the artist who has followed an unconventional path, while using a medium which is exhaustible and a technique which demands sensitive and careful handling. In some of his works one can decipher his attempt to amalgamate the three - dimensional with the two - dimensional, creating, in the process, unique artworks. The works are rich in form and texture.It's only after close inspection that one realizes that his sculptures establish a world that holds together diverse elements of physical and visual references. His spontaneity and dynamism form the core of his work.His structures, that are a result of meticulous thought process and its execution, carry a certain definite and strong element adding a sense of contradiction and delightful tension.

Apart from the solo show by Himmat Shah, another leading contemporary Indian sculptor who will be showcasing his work in Mumbai in the second week of September is Janak Narzary.

Janak Narzary too has had a distinguished career. This is his first solo show in Mumbai. This disciple of Ramkinkar Baij, like Himmat Shah, has developed his own sculpting style. He is currently a professor at Santiniketan. His sculptures on view at the Jehangir art gallery are done in a variety of media such as stone, bronze, metal and mixed media. Most of these revolve largely around the theme of fertility and male-female bonding.

His work is not immune to socio-political happenings. One of his works draws its inspiration from the tragic event of 9/11. His other favorite theme is the woman as the mother-goddess. He celebrates the spirit of womanhood and the inherent beauty and strength of it. Janak Narzary's sculptures are being showcased at Jehangir Art Gallery till September 14 whereas Himmat Shah's sculptures and drawings are on view at Ruia House, Mumbai till September 16.

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