Usha Ramchandran’s sculptures capture routine actions in a thought-provoking manner
It is a testament to Usha Ramachandran’s passion that even at the age of 62 she exhibits each year a selection of her works and manages to make several new additions. Out of the 21 sculptures being exhibited eight were finished within the last year.
Three years ago Usha was fortunate enough to meet veteran artist and sculptor V. Satheesan at one of her exhibitions. Under Satheesan’s guidance and tutelage Usha fulfilled a long time dream of learning to sculpt. “The very medium of painting is flat and allows for little or no interaction. Sculptures on the other hand are three dimensional,” says Usha.
Some of her works are flexible, inviting us to touch, feel and complete actions. Usha seems particularly encapsulated by movement and momentum. She often selects moments and scenes drawn from everyday life and endows this ordinary “everydayness” with an extraordinary vitality. Though frozen or rather because of it Usha’s sculptures pulsate with life. Her figures are not so much arrested mid-motion as they are checked, like a taut drawn bowstring. The man atop the swimming pool about to dive and the goalkeeper mid-air with one hand on the ball have both been paused just before they succumb to gravity and land and crash. The tension that preludes the moment of maximum impact is the focus of a lot of her art.
By capturing routine actions and making us examine them closely, Usha highlights the beauty and grace that we often overlook in everyday life. She deliberately eschews any intellectuality and abstraction in her art. Both her themes and representation speak home. The titles of the sculptures do not commit beyond a bare self evident description and the sketches have no titles at all. This is because Usha does not want to impose her own ideas onto her art. Nameless, unrestricted, different viewers can bring their own interpretations and thereby interact with the art. The subjects of her art are often rural common folk. This allows for a wonderful relatability and universality.
“The Little Laundress” which won an Akademi award in 2010 for instance shows a woman in the process of washing clothes. Many of these scenes are drawn from Usha’s memories from her childhood. “When I was growing up in Thalassery we were not woken up by alarm clocks but by the sound of women beating cloth on stones.” A fair share of her art, especially her sketches in charcoal deftly capture the almost utopian nicety and the rhythm of the village life that she grew up in.
The exhibition is on till December 30 at Lalit Kala Akademi, 4, Greams Road from 11 a.m. to 7p.m.