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The Innocent Eye

The annals of sculpture are dominated by our own images. In them has been construed the greatness as well as the limit of the medium. Since sculpture relates to our bodily feelings, we find ourselves totally involved , emotionally, physically, as well as intellectually, even as we contemplate them. Good sculptors achieve this--they successfully triumph over the restricted material that seems to be all that is allowed them.

This present sculptor does, I believe, succeed in four different ways: in his images of man idealized or otherwise, in pure form, in expressive surface, and in the magical metamorphoses. Each of these attitudes is illustrated in his compositions.

There is, for instance, the Great Indian Bazaar series, of wooden sculptures, bearing on the public profile of Indian mankind, one simultaneously living in many time zones, often clashing but finally unifying in heady cultural mixtures. This part of mankind knows no to excessively rationalized laws as with much of the 'advanced' but joyless world. Well, the Bazaar series is certainly an evocation of our kind in the course of its diurnal journey, a necessary component of the private man. It is an amusing, as well as warming counter-point to the high, perpendicular flights, that the artist takes from time to time.

In Nature's Thumbprints, the artist is no mere naturalist, but rather a keen, sympathetic observer of mother earth. His close-ups of nature are viewed with unrelenting attention. So looking he notices nothing less than root reality's beauty. Beauty of flora and fauna and indeed of the seemingly inert stone. These are marvels: Nature Triumphant, Swayambhu, Whirlpool and others. Here too nature appears to us as an immortal. Thus do these works speak up, but softly, in whispers; they are nature's metaphors, each soaked and instinct with the movement of the spheres. Satsang, a stunning wood, of what choice grain!

In certain of his assorted compositions, those like Birth of Venus, We Rise on the shoulders of our Fathers I, Spread the good word, Homage to the Golden Age, we have art which is full-bodied, earnest, and each being of a potent content. If the source of one of these sculptures is India's Golden age, still others take off imaginatively after the art of the occident. the alien inspiration is masticated so well that the art becomes dazzlingly novel; a coin from the artist’s own mint.

What also becomes apparent looking at the body of Gupta’s work is that the artist has not been seduced by hyper technology. No, he stays put on the ground of his local being. So that the work is neither modern nor traditional, but free of all fixed categories. His truck is with the eternal constants of man's life, and these particular constants keep him steady on an even keel. He sticks only to the high points of our aspirings and envisionings without looking either to the right or the left.

Now before I come to a few of his major woodcarvings, and stone hewings, I may as well divulge his views on art/craft:

Super-technology, great as it is, has caused the humanities and the arts of the day forget their true language, that of inner being. the scientific methods seen applied to some of the day’s art works are brilliant, but great love alone is the aim of all art. Art is not titillation, not information, not reduction. Art must somehow or other still have the mysterious power of transcending history, and horizontal time, that alone makes us see things acutely.

Artists must think from the ground up, that is, on all forms of creativities: whether of the arts, the sciences and even the faiths.

The so-called 'ugliness' can be beautiful, but far more beautiful is the heart. Art's bent is the truth of life, not the truth of scientific abstractions.

For me no glossy synthetic surfaces do, only those that come naturally. Kinetic sculpture can be exciting, but the Neolithic methods are closer to our bone.

All lasting art is contemplative and does not pander to our vulgar curiosity. I'm for permanent experiences alone. Through only by craft are these turned into moments of pukka art. In this excitable age, serenity is of the greatest value. The old Indian carvings created a mood of serenity. It is these that make us really breathless. Think of the dancing Shiva in stone! Here is true poetry. So art better not be fugitive.

Good art is not descriptive, but a carrier of culturally distilled emotions. I believe the displacement of the living and the organic from our civilization has gone too far with the development of the machine and machine-like minds. This has led to the dehumanization of art itself. We have become just too regulated and narrow. a disaster for our own humanity. Think of climate change! What folly. Truer artists groom the heart to spiritual health.

In nutshell, the above is the core of the sculptor's credo. Anyhow, having got this out of the way, I now come to the artist's three major series of sculptures: The Charter of the Heavens, Immortal Moment, and The Miracle of Creation. These, along with his other offerings are, I think, important works, which substantiate that here is a true original, who pours fresh wine into attested bottles.

The Immortal Moment /The Miracle Of Creation: In these sculptures Neeraj Gupta follows the logic of Indian aesthetic (rasa, bhava, symmetry, ornamentation, philosophical text), as well as the Indic image making techniques. Certain of his works are thus a convincing continuation of the foregoing vigorous art forms. After an intuitive as well as intellective grasping of the high points of temple art styles, as of rock or cave art patterns, he has sought to transform them into a contemporary modern idiom.

This way he has utilized ancient sculptural motifs in fresh contemporary incarnations; each work is significantly achieved by focusing on aesthetic and sculptural techniques by reorganizing cum breaking symmetry, by reorientation of the same, the simplification of structures and rhythms, and the modernization of traditional forms.

The present series of exhibited stones, The Immortal Moment and The Miracle of Creation, is in line with the icons of a tradition that configures divine love on myriad planes, as the principle that makes the world go round, as well as human love (an humble replica of the indissolubly fused whole). Shiva and Shakti are deemed those two basic principles that visualize the energies of the supreme reality; out of their congress comes the greater creation, quite as our creaturely congress brings forth human life. Fired by imagination, love permeates the Immortal Moment, and the other marbles. These are immaculate, and impeccable, in their hewing. In them is the feel of a great resolve, as of indestructible faith.

It is thus the artist renews a hoary tradition. The embrace of love in its highest register means no other than a cessation of all disunion and conflict.

Charter of the Heavens (Yantras) : In India's thought systems, diagrams and patterns are paramount. So that yantras are essentially geometrical compositions, though not being geometry alone but rather representing the dynamics of the Brahmand (cosmos), articulating forces whose powers or energy increase in proportion to the precision of a diagram. Through such yantras comes the creation and control of ideas and of blind material forces. The yantras par excellence reveal powerful images or vital aspects of our common existence. In the rigorously argued Indian thought systems, the line of both body and spirit meet and these lines can be traced through the yantras.

Contemplated, they enrich the higher emotions. So that these present yantras (of plain wood and nails) give us an inkling of the tandava like dancing of the all enveloping reality.

The artist Neeraj Gupta has come to these almost kinetic yantras not by taking thought but by having been exposed to them by his hereditary and cultural norms. He spell-binds us to space and time (akash and kala) that in themselves form the warp and woof of human awareness.

Yantras may also be taken as musical modes which are inherently related through their proportioned structures. Just as the musical strings must be plucked to invoke certain sounds, so too these yantras could be mastered and mentally plucked to bring forth images of power. Their static lines will, with due application, then vibrate in perfect concord like a finely tuned musical instrument.

Incredible Sculptures
17/2868, Beadon Pura, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, 110005 Delhi
M : +91 9810044342
011-28729251, 28726391
New Delhi
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