S. Radhakrishnan unveils his new set of mammoth sculptures “Liminal Figures Liminal Space” with a grand show.

They are 35 in number and some up to 60 feet in height. They took three years to “evolve” and were a result of “an unrealised project”. They were brought by 10 people in five trucks to Lalit Kala Akademi for veteran sculptor S. Radhakrishnan’s new show “Liminal Figures, Liminal Space”.

For those, already aware of Radhakrishnan’s style, the show is an extension of his old works exhibited through exhibitions like “Freehold” etc., where his bronze images, single or as a huge crowd walking disoriented on an ascending ramp, are often watched over by an all encompassing god-like figure. Willy-nilly, these figures will reach this observer only.

To the uninitiated, they are a study of men and women in metal – calm and content. They walk with the grace of a professional dancer, they smile at each other, many hold hands and all seem to be in a trance. What binds them in a common thread is their spirit of celebrating their sensuality in a free, playful way. Hence, despite an apparent chaos of innumerable, overlapping figures in few works, they appear undisturbed. There is a wall after the ramp that signifies a quest to look ‘beyond’ the apparent.

So, what are these images, recurring in Radhakrishan’s creations since he came to Delhi in 1981?

That old man

They are a blend of art and impulse. And a fond memory of Musui, “a lanky, innocent tribal from Santhal whom I studied during my Santiniketan days in the early 70s,” shares Radha, as he is lovingly called. He has also created ‘Maiya’, Musui’s beloved who often walks along with him or separately, and often dons the role of an encompassing goddess/nature with her two hands stretched to cover/protect the humanity walking towards her.

Says Radha, “Each of these images was made with a definite idea. My ramp is not a ‘fashion’ ramp which is flat and takes you nowhere. It is an ascending ramp that can be taken as a march towards spirituality, economics or however one would like to perceive it. Their movement is free and hence the viewer walks along it while watching them.”

Radha is right. The extreme playfulness of the images doesn’t bring sadness but a raw nudity may offend some. “My images don’t romanticise design, they evoke,” Radha quips.

Always cheerful, like his images, Radha is sad from within. He opens up, “The future of sculpture especially in public spaces in Delhi is abysmal. Jawaharlal Nehru had said that that two per cent of all public buildings should be devoted to art. Where is that happening? The government asks for ‘three quotes’ for installing an image at a public space. Whoever gives the lowest ‘bid’ gets the space! Abroad, they show the sculptors the space and the budget and leave it to them. Gallery scene is appalling too. They take it as a commodity.”

Radha doesn’t intend to sell his creations. “I go to France every year and fill one public space with my images. That takes care of my finances; otherwise I would have been broke here,” he laughs.

Radha who largely finances his own shows, doesn’t care about money. “I want my figures to grow in numbers. I want people to come, see, touch and feel it,” he sums up.

The show opened on Friday. It continues till November 25.