He began as an architect, in the footsteps of his father. But what concrete lost, metal gained. His initial works were made out of scrap, and he called them ‘scraptures’. Since 1996, he has gained fame for his figurative works, which he laboriously keeps beating, heating and metamorphosizing in his workshop in Mumbai. For Khambatta, the third dimension is very important and art should be something that one is able to feel with one’s hands. He has done a number of important public sculptures such as ‘The Rhino’ outside The Oberoi, Mumbai:
Michelangelo: He made a lot of difference to the world of sculpture. The way he carved literally brought life into his work. The amount of detailing in his work is phenomenal; for example, you can see the veins coming out of the arms of David. Even at that time, he had some degree of abstraction in his work as can be seen in the two figures at the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, which are set to represent day and night.
Pablo Picasso: Though primarily a painter, his sculptures reflect his playful side. He constructed a bull’s head out of a bicycle handle and the seat. He also used unconventional material such as bones of fish. His sculptures— for example, the monkey with the big stomach or the famous one of the goat—employ a lot of childlike humour that contrasts strongly with his serious themes and the Cubist style of his paintings.
Anish Kapoor: He is one of the top modern-day sculptors. His work is exhibited at all important galleries and museums in the world, including the Tate Modern in London and the Louvre in Paris. His figures can go as high as up to 450 feet. He uses large reflective surfaces, which draw the viewer into them while retaining a certain simplicity of form.
Damien Hirst: I don’t think he will ever be able to exhibit in India. He uses animal carcasses, for example, by slicing them up and injecting plastic to prevent decay. One has to see his work mainly to get shocked. He has a distinct mad streak, and looking at his work is like watching a Bollywood comedy. He might place a man-figure with a typewriter in a tank with a dead shark.
Adi Davierwala: I picked up a lot from his work. He was very prolific and worked in a wide range of materials, from wood to bronze, from acrylic to welded metal. A few weeks ago, a three foot work by him fetched Rs36 lakh.
Constantin Brancusi: I like him for the tremendous simplicity of his work, be it in wood or bronze. His sculpture, ‘Bird in Space’, is sleek and shiny, and gives you the feeling of something whizzing past. He makes simple faces with limited detailing, but his work still manages to stand out.
Salvador Dali: He is one artist I admire the most. He did some crazy sculptures, many of which are on display at the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain. On of his famous sculptures, called ‘Homage to Newton’ (1980), of a man holding a pendulum, was exhibited in Mumbai in 2005. His sculptures reflect the same strokes and curves as his paintings.