Sculptor M. Sasidharan Nair's steel and bronze installation at the Ajmeri Gate Metro rail station in New Delhi organically integrates with the space, theme and architecture.

It appears like a bridge suspended in the air; an endless row of bronze figures, tightly packed together, are assembled on the crests and slopes of this undulating bridge. This is a sculptural realisation by M. Sasidharan Nair, which was recently installed at the Ajmeri Gate Metro rail station, in New Delhi. Titled ‘An Endless Trail,' this installation is a 49-feet-long and 9-feet-high sculpture in black patina, stainless steel and gun metal fixed to the walls and the floor.

Amiable kinship

Although the ‘Endless Trail' runs horizontally and sometimes vertically throughout the Metro rail station, it exists in amiable kinship with the space and architecture. Negating the concept that sculpture has to be a gigantic corpse in public space, Sasidharan's use of space is minimal; a design that organically integrates the material into the architecture. Once the Metro attains full functionality, with passengers in momentum, the realisation of the sculpture will be complete. Commissioned by Reliance as a part of the Airport-Metro rail project, this sculpture was completed in October 2010 in the artist's studio in Baroda.

Born in Velamanoor, Kollam district, Sasidharan, completed his post-graduation in mural painting from the faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda, where he specialised in Italian and Indian fresco traditions. Sasidharan has been a faculty member of the Department of Painting, at his alma mater since 1992. He has travelled extensively in Europe, and has specialised in Kiln-formed glass process from Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, making him one of the few professional artists in India to have been trained in this stained glass- making process.

As a painter and mural artist, Sasidharan articulates metaphors from oral tradition and contemporary literature. But his metaphors emerge as distant references of images or sometimes as titles, which provide a possibility for an alternate reading.

Deviating from this approach, Sasidharan has conceptualised the Ajmeri Gate station project by assimilating the immediate environment and transforming it into an objective space of intimate reality. He has thus created a simple, linear structure (the 49-feet-long steel rod) that runs at high and low levels, with two-foot-tall human forms.

The stainless steel bridge is more than a representation; it is a life-line that grows as a memorial, a tribute to human beings for their indefatigable urge to traverse the past, present and their own destiny.

The images of people were created from up-close observation and documentation of crowds through photography and spot drawings. Behavioural groups were categorised before making the clay images, which were then transformed for bronzes by casting them in fibreglass. Selected groups are multiplied in the process of casting. Says Sasidharan: “I have to schematise the entire process by simplifying the technology because of transportation and reinstallation at the Metro. Of course, there is an element of engineering in the whole process of installation. I do not want to adopt large-scale technology, which is common today in sculpture. I wish to create things that are tangible in my own hands and simplify the process by involving minimum labour.”

Over the years Sasidharan has been trying out new concepts with his Kiln-formed glass practices through various workshops at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and at his glass studio at Baroda. He is also involved as an expert consultant for the Skill Development Programme for glass workers at Faridabad – a rehabilitation project initiated by the International Labour Organisation and the Ministry of Labour, Government of India.