Message Packs The Punch
Art Soul Life|Feb - April 2018

Women sculptors might be less in number but their message is chillingly attention-drawing and depicts the real life environment as they force us to look within and suffer pangs of guilt.

Subhra Mazumdar

When women take up the brush or rummage through a collection of waste, what they manage to create is not just an artistic piece but actually tell a human story through their chosen means. This is specially so in the case of sculptors, where women have not resorted to sophisticated materials to express themselves but have shown that extraordinary creativity and gender innovativeness through sculptural creations can be achieved through malleable materials that need not be marble or metal. Hence, when viewing sculptures by women it is the message rather than the means of making them that are innovative. Thus the genre of womanly creations of this three-dimensional art form becomes the ideal tool to bring to the fore all the problems that women face, with startling clarity. While their numbers might be small in comparison to their male counterparts, and their works not as long lasting either, their message is chillingly attention-drawing and depict the real life environment as they force us to look within and suffer pangs of guilt. One of the pioneers in this line of thinking was none other than the famed sculptor Meera Mukherjee. Her mammoth bronze structure on the premises of a five-star hotel in Delhi, depicts the qualities of the king with that of a vulnerable calm serenity registered on the facial features of the sculpture. Besides its subject, Mukherjee had innovated in her material usage to sculpt the form. She had used the lost wax process and was influenced by the Dhokra sculptors of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, thereby creating an iconography that is special to her. More than all else, the sculptor was a part of herself as it dominated the very spirit of human dignity, while on the superficial level, there is a certain playfulness in the seemingly disproportionate body contour of the image. When asked about the work she is known to have remarked: “I did not straightaway find the subject. What I had decided was that it was to be a work which was not only big in size but also embodied a great idea.”Echoing similar ideas through sculpture in our times is the work of the late Mrinalini Mukherjee, who glorified the ordinary hemp fibre into iconic proportions through her use of it as a sculptural medium. Through her unique and intricate process of knotting that hang from roof level depicts the “fecund world of burgeoning life, lush vegetation iconic figures.”

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