Playing the field

Playing the field
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First Published: Sat, Apr 07 2007. 01 21 AM IST
Updated: Sat, Apr 07 2007. 01 21 AM IST
The Stoics
Himmat Shah
From his generation, 74-year-old Shah is the only sculptor who continues to interest leading galleries in the country. Trained in painting, Delhi-based Shah switched to sculpture in the early 1960s, and has been working with bronze and terracotta for the last 50 years. His trademark is the human head, where he combines elements of painting to achieve a rich, layered effect. Through the 1990s, when sculpture was at an ebb, Shah adhered to his style and resurfaced with a show in 2005 at New Delhi’s Lalit Kala Akademi. Shah’s works are priced in the range of Rs5 lakh to Rs15 lakh. They can also be found in several collections, including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and the Tuli family collection in Mumbai.
Dhruva Mistry
Also from the Baroda School, Mistry, 50, shaped himself as a sculptor when he lived in the UK for 13 years from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. His work ranges from huge public commissions to maquettes and wall reliefs, related to Hinduism and Buddhism. His most recognizable works (for which the current average price is Rs10 lakh) are human and animal figures, often both in the same piece. Tree Spirit II, which went to the Christie’s auction in March, is part of a nature-inspired series. Mistry lives and works in Vadodara.
K.S. Radhakrishnan
In the 1990s, K.S. Radhakrishnan was seen as an avant-garde sculptor in India, giving the art form a boost. His bronze works depict human figures in motion—a rickshaw puller in Kolkata or Musui and Maya, a tribal couple that he brought to life through many of his works. Trained in Santiniketan under the legendary Ramkinkar Baij, his experiments with bronze culminated in gravity-defying, elongated figures. The average price of his works is Rs20 lakh. In 2004, Delhi’s Art Alive Gallery released K.S. Radhakrishnan, a book on his works.
Now showing
Ravinder G. Reddy
Like Mistry, Reddy, a 51-year-old sculptor based in Visakhapatnam, was educated at MS University, Vadodara, and lived in the UK in the 1980s for two years. He started making gold-emblazoned, larger-than-life heads in the late 1980s, a subject he continues to explore. His influences are the Egyptian and the early Greek civilizations, but his primary inspiration is the tribal women of Andhra Pradesh. In the last few years, his works (priced between Rs20 lakh and Rs35 lakh) have been shown in many galleries abroad. Two of his famous works are going to be shown at the Louis Vuitton Park in Paris in May, 2007.
Subodh Gupta
Everybody in the art world is talking about this graduate from the College of Arts & Crafts, Patna. His rise from the time he had his first show at Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery in 1998 has been meteoric. The 43-year-old artist was recently signed on by the Galerie In Situ, Paris, for which he is currently working on a solo show. Gupta uses everyday objects of rural India—cow dung, milk buckets, kitchen utensils, scooters, guns and gulal powder—and elevates them to a grand scale. His works cost between Rs40 lakh and Rs75 lakh.
The future
Sunil Gawde
A few years after starting out as an abstract painter, Gawde moved to sculptural installations in the late 1990s. He has been showing at galleries in Mumbai ever since, but his big break was an exhibition titled Blind Bulb in 2005. Like Gupta, Gawde works with everyday objects, except that he plays with mechanical ware and motoring devices for scale and effect. Just back from the Dubai Art Fair, where his installation of three enormous painted bulbs were exhibited on a beach, he is travelling to Beijing at the end of April 2007, with The Butterfly (see cover). The average price of Gawde’s works is Rs25 lakh.
Riyas Komu
He is among the few from Mumbai’s J.J. School of Art to have entered the mainstream art circuit in recent times. The 36-year-old artist learnt painting, but now Komu works with a variety of media. His sculptural installations (fetching between Rs10 lakh and Rs20 lakh) made of charred wood and metal—exhibited in solo shows at Delhi’s Palette Art Gallery and Mumbai’s Sakshi Art Gallery in 2006—brought him recognition. He is taking his works to the Amsterdam Art Fair and the Venice Biennale at the end of 2007.
Ravi Shah
At the age of 25, Bangalore-based Shah had a solo show in Bangalore, barely a year after he graduated from M.S. University, Vadodara. In the last two years, he has shown his works at Sakshi Gallery, Delhi’s India Habitat Centre and the Academy of Fine Arts, Edinburgh. Gallerists say 29-year-old Shah stands out because he is rooted in traditional tools: hammer, chisel and the axe. Axed out of wooden logs, his sculptures explore the beauty of the human form. The average price of his works is Rs7 lakh.
Prices are approximate, based on recent online auctions and gallery sales.
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First Published: Sat, Apr 07 2007. 01 21 AM IST
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