Shitanshu G. Maurya's collection of stoneware ceramic sculptures currently on display at Apparao Galleries is a celebration of the earthy, the unvarnished, and the unglamorous. The hallmark of these experimental works is the decidedly eccentric texture and distressed finish the artist achieves, lending them what he calls a ‘Scabrous Allure.'
Scabrous, meaning roughly hewn and covered in scabs. Sounds far from alluring, but in that apparent contradiction lies the offbeat charm of these sculptures. Take, for instance, the platter so darkly burnished and scarred that it could be made of rusted, ancient metal, like an artefact from a forgotten age. Or the kettle so beautifully textured with coils and finger impressions that it looks for all the world like it was made of jute. Or the series of circular plates slashed across with deep, dark lines, and with such a rough finish that they could be made of mud.
“There are so many aspects of any given thing, but we only take the one which suits us, and ignore the rest as scrap,” says the young Vadodara-based sculptor. “My work speaks of those ignored aspects in the form of rough surfaces and textures. They too can give us aesthetic pleasure if we look at them in that way.”
Maurya began his career as a ceramic potter, doing his Masters in the subject at the College of Arts, Lucknow. But he found himself veering towards abstract sculpture soon after, as he began to play with the artistic possibilities of the medium, attempting to go beyond simply creating utilitarian wares.
“Today, we see lots of experimentation in Indian art. It encourages me to experiment with clay, which, as far as I know, not many artists are doing. I want to break the barrier of ceramics, to bring recognition to my medium.”
One of his recent inspirations has been architecture, and this is represented by a series of towers and spires in the current collection. Each one of these wonky constructions is a study in unusual detailing, with glass poured over them, strips of metal embedded in them or scabs of clay scattered all over. The resulting look and feel, as always, is so intriguing that you're drawn to reach out and touch them.
“Previously, people knew the ceramic artist only as a potter, but I want to speak loudly through my works,” says Maurya. This exhibition, with all it has to say, is certainly an interesting start.
(The exhibition ends on Wednesday)