Art

Between past and present

OF LONGING AND BELONGING Rajendar Tiku at work

OF LONGING AND BELONGING Rajendar Tiku at work   | Photo Credit: Manisha Gera Baswani

One of the few Kashmiri Pandit artist and sculptors, Rajendar Tiku’s exhibition, The Womb and the Sprout pays an ode to the past and highlights the present. His works have invariably drawn attention to the concerns of migration and many contemporary issues. The Padma Shri recipient also received the Gottlieb Foundation grant for advanced work in Sculpture in 2015.

Excerpts:

How has the theme of migration seeped into your works?

As far as my work is concerned, though I didn’t do anything consciously to show something related to the cause. If you summarise my work from the 90s onwards, you will find the theme very strongly, automatically cropping into my work. For instance, the boxes or trunks in my works indicate movement of things from one place to another. These subtle references refer to the broader concept of loss and longing.

The question of identity and the idea of home strongly reflect in your works. Does that have any connection with your personal loss?

Home and identity are interlinked. Without a home, you don’t have an identity. The sense of belongingness comes from home and when that is taken away from you all you feel is a sense of homelessness. Hence, I try to highlight that sense of longing and belonging for home through my works. And, if we look at the present context what is happening globally, the idea of home and loss becomes more of a global concern and not a personal emotion.

How were you drawn towards sculpting?

I chose this medium because I was a tough, energetic, young boy then (laughs). Well, you can say that as a response to the material, it came naturally to me. Also, in Kashmir, the stone was abundantly available and a group of art students would sit down and do the stone carving. The more I worked on the stone, more committed I became towards it because carving needs a lot of patience. This is how I was completely immersed in this medium and loved the challenges that came with it. This medium has given me a lot of pleasure and I can’t think of doing anything else other than this.

What kind of challenges are you referring to?

Working in this medium is a tedious exercise and is physically and economically difficult. Economically because it involves a lot of production cost.

Along with this, there is always the issue of logistics. For instance, painting can be done anywhere, ever your house can have a studio, but this isn’t the case with sculpting even if you have a bigger home. You need to have a studio somewhere else. There is a lot of hard work involved at multiple levels but it is extremely satisfactory.

Your works are abstract in nature...

I have always tried to create objects that generate their own reality, become autonomous and announce their presence. I try to leave a hint through my captions that act as a door and open a land of imagination for my viewers. This is the reason why I always think while creating a work and over a period of time, these thoughts become a story that is best expressed through the title of my work.

This exhibition also focuses on the continuity of time with many references connecting the past with the present.

That is true. I have tried to establish a connection between the old and the new and my objects reflect the passage of time. They are fallen, broken and sometimes even shaky, just like our past. My works are also about conserving the shape of things and not letting them fall apart. This aspect indicates history and the cracks on my sculptures indicate how they are slowly falling apart. This is why you will see that I use a lot of leather straps or jute threads to tie them together in order to prevent them from breaking. I don’t want us to lose our reference to past and personally to me our past is extremely important to create a better future.

Home and identity

CT Scan

CT Scan  

CT Scan – Sanctuary: It addresses the issue of homelessness and the never-ending desire for home. The sculpture is in the shape of a head, which basically signifies how the idea of home is embedded in our mind and memory. And with migration taking place all around the globe, the theme becomes more pertinent than ever.

Fitted with a Periscope

Fitted with a Periscope  

Fitted with a Periscope, Gold Heart Returns to Womb: This is the first time the artist has used a figurative element in his works. In this bronze sculpture he has drawn attention to human inquisitiveness and how even after travelling globally or living in any country, a person always remains aware of his surroundings and longs for home.

Iris Inside

Iris Inside  

Iris Inside: This 2010 bronze sculpture signifies the state of present political turmoil and how they leave a crack in the lives of communities. But what acts as a binding clue is the hope that brings people together and assures them that good times will announce their arrival soon.

(The show is on until December 10 at Threshold Art Gallery, Sarvodaya Enclave)

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 8:58:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/between-past-and-present/article21288552.ece

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