From empty toothpaste tubes to old bottles and fused bulbs, anything that is thrown away springs to life in a new avatar in his deft hands to find place in the homes of the Pope, Nelson Mandela and the Queen of England among others.
Fifty-four-year-old Prithpal S. Ladi uses not just materials thrown to the dustbin; he also uses fibre glass and clay to fabricate exquisite sculptures like angels, anglers or humans reflecting myriad moods.
In a shanty garage, located adjacent to his residence, that doubles up as a studio, Ladi turns empty tooth paste tubes into angels, used Harpic bottles to human forms.
Through intricately detailed dragonflies and hindless frogs, mechanical devices like an antique Mercedes typewriter, limp human figures in postures of obeisance, Ladi invests his sculptures with a queer sense of humor.
“I have tried to make clay and other dead materials talk and make them permanent. From my childhood I have been fascinated with relics which have evolved over the years enabling me to achieve rare results,” he says.
Mr. Ladi’s work has now found recognition by the redoubtable ole Nationale Supeure des Beaux-arts (ENSB-A) or National School of Fine Arts in Paris which had offered him a fellowship and even invited him as a guest teacher in the institution.
Mr. Ladi said he would be displaying two of his sculptures at the next Beijing Biennial, a large-scale international art exhibition organized by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, slated for September.
Mr. Ladi had been part of official cultural trips to a number of countries like Turkey, Cambodia, Morocco, Pakistan, France and others.
In China, he will display a sculpture depicting angels (made of toothpaste tubes) descending from heaven and a man in ground (made of a bottle) trying to communicate with them.
A recipient of the National Academy of Art award, Mr. Ladi never had any permanent job. “When you are preoccupied in a job, you cannot be creative. Material and emotional insecurity is a pre-requisite for a person to be creative,” he felt.
He claims his sculptures adorn the homes of the Queen of England, the Pope and many other world figures like Nelson Mandela, not to speak of numerous art collectors. Five of his pieces are also exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art.