Renowned sculptor S. Nandagopal’s creation Bee Keeper was installed at Hyatt Regency in the city recently. He talks to Koeli Mukherjee Ghose about what went into its making

Bee Keeper is expressive of a thought — meditated upon and generates curiosity regarding its conception.

I envisioned the form of a bee keeper as designer Rajeev Sethi narrated his idea — of reflecting inter connectivity among all beings as in Nature. He said, ‘The bee is symbolic of life and harmony; the hive works collectively not only for their sustainability but for the sustainability of all of us. The art works convey this inter dependence of all life forms and emphasises that the destruction of one link will destroy the entire chain… You cannot pluck a flower without altering a star.’

The dimensions of the sculpture echoes the harmony with which you dealt all challenges in its making. One interesting bit of this story is to have a younger artist on board with a specific mission.

The sculpture is 22-ft high and 15-ft wide, making it arguably the largest sculpture of its kind in the country in the medium of welded copper, brass and aluminium. The plinth was designed by Suresh Kumar, a young sculptor of Chennai. It was interesting to work with him as he had the task put on to him to create the base, like that of a tree with a beehive pattern and which would integrate and resonate with the Bee Keeper.

The Bee Keeper pronounces an amalgamation of your own stylistic variations, embedding them in the form, marking the creative process and its crossroads. What made this imperative?

My sculptures are usually frontal and I completely avoid a three dimensional approach but I was aware that the piece would be viewed from all levels of the hotel. Furthermore, the fact that people would be walking around it made me think of working in the round. The main sculpture has also two of my smaller works welded into the base to facilitate unobstructed viewing around the sculpture.

What is the signification of the form of the Bee Keeper?

I am asked why this super-imposition of non-human forms of the bull and the monkey for the countenance of the Bee Keeper. My idea was to make the Bee Keeper a super human transcendental being that oversees and protects life on earth.

Keeping in mind that you navigate figurative and abstract terrains and have been discussed as being ‘non-figurative, non-abstract in your approach’, is it the permutation-combination of these methodologies that formed a composite vehicle for the Bee Keeper?

The figure can never cease to attract me, and, frankly, I can never think otherwise. It is strange that when one is confronted with an abstract sculpture, he has nothing much to say by way of criticism. But, when faced with a figurative one, he immediately comments upon representational discrepancies. This is because the critic has his own references, on the basis of which he recognises the form. I do believe that man will always be the greatest subject in art.