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Published by:

Art Alive Gallery, S-221 Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110017, India. E-mail: info@artaliveindia.com Website: www.artaliveindia.com Printed in India at Ajanta Offset & Packagings Ltd., New Delhi ISBN: 81-901844-3-1 Š Art Alive Gallery 2006 All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopy without permission in writing from the publishers.


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Sculptures by K. S. Radhakrishnan

Text by Dr. Geeti Sen

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In the Indian legacy of art expression the human figure is the primal source of inspiration. Its supremacy, its impact through the medium of sculpture is profound. When we stand before the immutable presence of the Trimurti at Elephanta or the sensuous yakshis from Mathura or the coupling mithunas from Khajuraho, we are mesmerised. Life flows from within these images as though they were living, palpable beings. Radhakrishan’s sculptures in bronze build truly upon the foundations of this heritage. He is engaged with the human figure and the figure alone. Yet he has moved far far away from the bounds of iconography, of what a figure can or cannot do. He has escaped from rigid textual prescriptions for pratima, the icon in worship. Indeed, he does not distinguish between the sacred icon and the profane. He is not concerned with proportions of anatomy and canons of measurement –


his torsos can be bulky, bulging, roughly textured; crudely modeled with an arm missing here and a leg there; or attenuated as they are today, with their limbs achieving impossible positions. In fact, he does not seem bothered at all with the perfection of human form or with norms of beauty. Then what is he doing? Why are his figures today so compelling? Over the past twenty years and more, Radhakrishnan has been exploring every aspect of the human figure in all its infinite possibilities of stillness, poise and movement – the figure in space. It is though he has been moving through many light years in exploring the vast dimensions of the unbounded universe, and man’s place in it. Whether they are small maquettes or large-scale sculptures in the open, this is what makes his figures truly monumental. And there is something else. Relentlessly, he has been breaking down conventions by defying the rules of matter and the rules of gravity. His figures of Musui and Maiya are buoyant spirits who spin and gyrate; they stand on their heads and hands, they walk, run, dance and turn cartwheels. As supreme feats in technology and in terms of sheer balance, this is no small achievement in bronze. This is an enterprise that pioneers new dimensions in the medium. These figures express more than outward movement: through rhythm and movement they are giving voice to that intangible spirit which animates them to live, to laugh, cry, fear, love. Their exaggerated limbs and gestures possess an emotive quality which lends them distinctive character, a persona which is not often sought or found in bronze. The story of Radhakrishnan’s figures as related here is not about a single journey, but about multiple journeys which are undertaken simultaneously. A journey to explore movement of the body in all its possibilities; another to explore movement in the third dimension, in space; a third to explore the potentials of the bronze medium to its fullest capacity until it becomes as fluid as liquid; and that other journey equally indispensable to these images, whereby they express not only the outer form but their inner energy, their life-force. It is that inner spirit which ultimately wins out, making them reach out to resonate and be one with the unbounded universe. II The seeds of these sculptures were sown on earth: the romantic red soil of Santiniketan where Radhakrishnan arrived in 1974 to enter the portals of the art college. Siva Kumar arrived on the same train from Kerala, and the two strangers were to reach an understanding and bonding that has


lasted these thirty years. Kumar mentions the influence of two great masters on the impressionable young sculptor: Sarbari Roy Choudhuri, urbane and modern, and Ramkinkar Baij, indigenous to the soil and a rustic, described by Kumar as “more of a fakir than a bohemian”. Their influence on Radhakrishnan was very different. Sarbari, essentially a portraitist, gave him in his initial years “a living link with Western high modernism”; whereas Ramkinkar inspired him with his large-scale sculptures – “evoking primal and sensuous bodies energized to the point of rupture”. From his earliest experiments in Santiniketan, Radhakrishnan expresses his essential concern with the human body as the evocation of a primal impulse. These are primordial images, inspired by the yakshinis and mithunas of ancient sculpture. If he learns to make consummate portraits of Ramkinkar Baij (1979) and of Mimi (1978) who later became his wife, they remain exceptions in his work. There was one portrait however, that was to influence him for years to come. Musui, the Santhal boy who posed for him with his lean flexible body and disarming smile, possessed that quality which inspired the sculptor into attempting endless variations unto the present day. He narrates a memorable episode when Musui earned his first ten rupees as a model, ran off with it to the barber’s shop and returned with his head shaved. For the sculptor this was perfection itself, with the head shorn and naked as much as the body! Musui served as the ideal archetype, an innocent shy of his manhood. He would look at himself naked in the modeling class, and smile. When Radhakrishnan left Santiniketan, he took with him a single image with many memories of a certain culture, a freedom of spirit. This was a large head shorn of hair, modeled of Musui in 1977.


Freehold  

This pictorial monograph focuses on the bronze sculptures of K.S. Radhakrishnan with an article written by noted critic Dr. Geeti Sen. Carri...

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