Kothanur-based artist and sculptor Ravi Shah talks about why so many people can relate to his work
“If my work doesn’t elicit a response deep within your soul — an agitation, a stillness, an inspiration, some sort of introspection at the very least — then my effort is in vain. Art is the flow of creative energy and I feel like I am nature’s storyteller,” says Kothanur-based sculptor and artist Ravi Shah.
Ravi is a multi-faceted artist who is known for his wood sculptures but doesn’t limit himself to one medium: he finds expression in poetry as well. When he was younger, he found himself fascinated by electronics and robotics, but formal education took away some of its magic. To compensate, Ravi found himself turning to the arts. “I remember the first time I saw a chisel in my friend’s locker. Till then, ‘art’ was all about painting and drawing. You never realise that art has so many forms until you are exposed to them. There was no looking back after that.”
His process of creating art is simple and minimalist, just like his concepts. “Many artists get stuck trying to visualise a concept, trying to add layers and layers of meaning to it. Some stick to themes that limit the kind of art they can create and the style becomes one-dimensional. I don’t subscribe to any particular school of expression, but I draw inspiration from all of them. It is why so many people can relate to my work,” says Ravi.
To Ravi, technique doesn’t matter as much as the message it conveys. He uses wood as a medium because he sees it as still, but alive. His sculptures inspire self-reflection.
“Every sculpture I carve is full of life. The strokes of my axe, like someone once told me, try to reveal the truth behind the skin until there is no distinction between what is in the heart of my subject and what is revealed to the world. Nature grows around it and it blends into nature. It is much like reality, there are scars, there is a sense of ‘unfinishedness’ but that’s what life is — raw and in a state of constant evolution.”
Ravi’s latest effort includes encouraging children to find themselves and express their creativity through different forms of art. He works with Archana Prakash of Abhiyan Global, an organisation that facilitates after-school art and dance workshops.
On the subject of his locality, Ravi says Kothanur is a laid-back area that hasn’t yet been overwhelmed by the city and concrete. “Living in the village, closer to nature — with plants and birds and frogs and lizards and crickets and walks in the lake forest even at night — if that doesn’t influence your life, then I don’t know what will.”
Ravi’s work will be on display at Kynkyny Art Gallery from March 22.