There is something magical about Sisir Sahana's glass sculpture series “I've Seen the Tiger” on display at Gallery Sumukha. They make you want to dive right into them, as though they are inviting pools of peace. “The tigers in my sculpture are not really tigers in the literal sense,” says Sisir.My works depict the non-violent aspect of this tiger in society.” For instance, the first sculpture “Patriotism” shows a man in blue, green and yellow looking into a tiger's eyes. “What I've depicted here is a man having a close encounter with a tiger. He is a patriot who is not scared of the violence in society,” says Sisir.
Sisir is one of the very few artists in India who work with glass. He has used thick, casting glass in these works, which he has made from scratch. Glass is his passion. “Glass gives me the freedom to use bright colours. No other sculpting media allows the application of bright colours. It is also an organic medium, made of sand. It is fragile but it usually can't be destroyed by nature. There is so much life in that colour. It makes you feel like touching it.”
He has done just that with his current works. They are pleasant combination of greens, blues, reds and yellows. The texture of the glass is soothing to look at, so are his faces of tigers, men, women and nature (represented through foliage), each depictingvarious strands of his idea of tigers.
Sisir has always been interested in working with glass. He specialised in glass painting during his Masters degree in Shantiniketan. He won a scholarship to the Central St. Martin's College of Art & Design, London in 1994 where he studied stained-glass painting.
“When I was doing the diploma course, I discovered how glass works in heat, how it melts and forms shapes. Since then I have been experimenting in my studio, discovering various techniques of working with glass.” Soon he developed a technique making moulds in negatives. Later he won a three-month fellowship in America, after which he began working with thick casting glass. “Through this, I'm trying to express both content and context. It's difficult to work with glass without knowing the technique, even if one has ideas. To work with glass, an artist needs technology, science and aesthetics. This is why not too many artists work with glass. It is very different from working with bronze or metal.”
According to Sisir, India has not created forums for knowledge or technical transfer in glass making. “There are no institutes that teach the technicalities of working with glass, people need to go abroad to learn. They would need to spend a lot of money to build a glass-making studio. It is also hard to get good quality raw material. They would need a qualified assistant to help them. I didn't mind doing all this. I was even okay about breaking my works in the process. I learn and I work. The problem is that artists want to make money overnight.”
He plans to create larger pieces and outdoor sculptures. “The problem with working outdoors is that there is a limitation of security. People are not used to living with glass. I also face the challenge of ensuring that the glass is not destroyed by dust, rain or sun. I think that once we make people aware of the art, they will develop a sensitivity towards living with fragile objects.”
The exhibition is on at Gallery Sumukha, 24/10, BTS Depot Road, Wilson Garden, until October 31. For details, contact 22292230.