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Getting a feel of sculpture

Karl Antao, a sculptor, is in the Indian School of Business to interact with management students. He is the second artist after Laxma Goud to have fused art in the corporate milieu.

LEARNING LESSONS: Karl Antao (left) explains.

CONVENTIONALLY ART is a cathartic source of purging the psychological excesses generally routed via the emotional faculty. For an artist it is a means to take a stand or express perspectives and viewpoints in forms that might interest the spectator. Another highly subjective aspect is when some artists aspire to attain the spiritual. But once their art is mounted for public viewing, the complexion of art changes. The original intentions of art may transform because it may mean myriad things to many people. For the patron of art it becomes a prized possession, it is research for an aesthetician, the adman applies art to sell products, for the connoisseur it is a matter of taste, the impresario's mission lies in its promotion, for the people with reasonable interest art can be cultural education, and so on and so forth.

While we briefly dwell upon the subject of understanding the intentions of the art, the residency programme designed by the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, provide us yet another dimension to its meaning. The motto here is to inculcate a sense of freedom in an environment where students of management are drilled to acquire the craft that will support them survive the chaos and competition in the arena of commerce. The basic idea here for the student is to imbibe the instinct and energy of emancipation and boldness exuded by art practitioners. The second time round, the challenge to expose students to a creative way of life was entrusted to sculptor Karl Antao. (Laxma Goud was first invited to introduce the concept of fusing art in the corporate milieu). Originally a Goan, who lived most of his life in Mumbai, Karl now resides in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. While he was studying his BFA, Applied Arts from the J.J. Institute, Mumbai (1986-91), he was traditionally working in phases as a graphic artist, set designer and visualiser. After the completion of his degree he joined Lintas, Mumbai, again as visualiser. And it was in the creative department of this agency Karl realised the potential sculptor in him. It was a campaign for Newstrack, a current affairs news magazine for Doordarshan wherein he applied sculpture to communicate the purpose of addressing via the print and mass media. Although the campaign was not used by the advertiser, it provided enough stimulus for Karl Antao to embark upon a new journey. And this passage provides him the scope to introspect the dynamics of relationships, the corresponding instincts of mankind and animals. Moving away from Mumbai, he landed in the sculpture studio of the Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad, in 1992 where he later taught the subject from '94-'96.

INTERACTIVE SYNERGY: Students touch and paint the sculpture.

Between 1997-2001, he was a visiting faculty in the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad. Antao's experiences as a sculptor merely complements his strong faith in the interactive method of involving people in his work. Hence, his presence at the ISB is an ideal situation. The imposing lady, probably 8'-10' high, which he carved in teakwood (incidentally his chosen medium) with an owl in her hand is a factor of his preoccupation: a prototype which represents his concept, metaphor, scales and certainly his emotions.

"When I start working on a new log, I take time to see the elements I can carve out." Or let's say, leave for the log to reveal those possibilities which are etched out by his tools. Although his work evolves from the organic state, it takes a definite shape and concept ultimately. An intelligent artist, his love for books, (he prefers non-fiction), definitely helps him to rationalise his emotional articulations. Therefore, the process of creative thinking conveys not just his pleasure of `evolving images', but Antao's methodology of creative thinking.

CREATIVITY IN WOOD: The artist's imagery.

While he works on the wood, spends time with the students, very subtly decoding their apprehensions, he encourages them to paint his sculpture. Many of them express their doubt of `spoiling the sculpture'. But they take their turn one evening to paint motifs on the sculpted female's garments. The slide show of his work is yet another outlet to measure his work. Then, a few films by Kurusawa and others motivates the students to touch, feel and paint the sculpture. And when Antao talks of interactive sculptures, he means the participation of his spectators in seeing the works, by feeling it by as many senses as possible. Thus, he successfully employed the synergy of a diverse group who provided a dimension to his belief in interactive sculpture.


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