Atul Sinha talks about his works, which are inspired by Uttarakhand.

Over the last eight years, the verdant hills of Uttarakhand have inspired Atul Sinha in creating over 100 sculptures. The sculptor, a utilitarian artist in the traditional mould, has just finished ‘Shiva’s Trilogy’, inspired by the trishul (trident).

With touches of temple architecture from Pauhri in Garhwal district, the trilogy comprises Aradhak with lingam-like formations, the Ardhanarishwar series, and Mukti, a boat-shaped form with the third eye of Shiva carved on it.

For Atul, Uttarakhand has been an escape and a place from which he has imbibed little nuances that are reflected in his work. “Whenever I drive up and walk in the meandering Himalayas, it takes me into a trance of tranquillity and serenity with positive shakti, which propels me to create forms in my medium.” The medium is wood — Shisham or rosewood genus.

Educated at Sanawar and with a BFA (Sculptures) from The MS University, Vadodara, Atul has experimented with various mediums including ceramics, ink and kerosene, glass etchings, foam bricks, papier mâché, bronze and of course wood. Atul says, “I graduated from ceramics to wood.”

It is with wood that one sees the play with the textures and the grain. He uses the natural surface of the wood, yet shaping it to reflect his thought process. It might seem wrong to suggest that art can have a utilitarian component, that sculptures can be used as furniture. But there is a non-intrusive element in Atul’s work that blends form with utility. For example, the composition Panchatatva captures the five elements; these are in the form of tables and stools.

His lighted sculptures are a part of the NGMA collection while sculptures for use are in several galleries including the Delhi Art Gallery, Art Konsult and Gallery Ganesha.

“These works reflect soul, nature and God, expressing the process of life to moksha. The composition elements are from the surroundings, temples, sadhus and local folk. The vision is transformed into rough sketches, which later become sculptural forms,” says Atul.

Taking a cue from the beautiful undulating step farms on the hillside, sculptures in the Trilogy series have a gradient, fluid, terrace-like appearance. The smallest piece of the trilogy draws inspiration from the spout of the Shiva Lingam and the temple architecture of Uttarakhand. Each of the pieces has a Lingam-like formation at the top. In another interpretation, it is a form of cosmic unity — the creator, protector and destroyer.

The Ardhanareshwar shows the man and woman separated — connected yet separate. There is Shristi, the all-encompassing woman, mother earth or nature. The Kalyug 2 is a recent addition, carved out of a stump of a tree, with a formidable face which Atul likens to Shiva’s locks, open and swaying in anger.

The recent disaster had a poignant effect on the sculptor. “It is a man-made tragedy and people have wrought havoc there.” However, he believes the hills will regain their glory. “The peaceful regions have been an inspiration and they will continue to be. I am planning a trip there soon.”