Hyderabad-based sculptor-teacher Kantha Reddy’s bronze sculpture urges women to have a tough mindset

He is the first sculptor from Telangana to win the Lalit Kala Akademi award

June 22, 2023 03:51 pm | Updated June 23, 2023 04:53 pm IST

Kantha Reddy in his studio

Kantha Reddy in his studio | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The adage ‘Failure is the stepping stone to success ’ seems to have been inspired by Hyderabad-based Sama Kantha Reddy’s life. The sculptor, also assistant vice professor at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU), who features among this year’s winners chosen by Lalit Kala Akademi never gave up on his dreams despite failures. In all the years he can remember, he has only gotten up each time he fell.

Iron Beauty in bronze by Kantha Reddy

Iron Beauty in bronze by Kantha Reddy | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“This is my 24th year of submission,” he shares about his works, adding, “I feel humbled, elated and honoured to be chosen by the prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi.” . Seated in his cabin with a sketchbook, the cheerful artist says, ”Some artists do not submit works after not getting selected for three years but I never get disheartened. Art is my life; how can I feel despair with it?”

  • His winning sculpture is titled Iron Beauty, an 18 feet bronze exhibit
  • A sketchbook is his constant companion
  • The head series is inspired by multifaceted occurrences in urban cities

His winning sculpture titled Iron Beauty is an 18 feet high piece that invokes women to be tough, resilient and have an iron mindset. The bronze exhibit showcases a human head with small vertical extensions on top, fixed in an open ironing box. “The cases of Nirbhaya and the 2019 gangrape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad shook me up. We continue to witness such horrific incidents across the country and as an artist, it is my social responsibility to portray them,” he says, adding, “Women constantly feel the heat due to the challenges they face; the vertical extensions symbolise the way society tries to trample upon them.”

S Kantha Reddy in his studio

S Kantha Reddy in his studio | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

As a student of City College in Hyderabad, Kantha Reddy had been in a dilemma to choose between Law and Art, his twin passions. After he got a BFA seat at JNAFAU on the fifth attempt in ’94, he knew his calling. “I did not feel I had wasted five years studying art just as I don’t feel sad at not succeeding in the first attempt. I consider it a testing time from God. This perspective has helped me move forward and keep working,” says Kantha Reddy who got a Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University award and a gold medal from the Hyderabad Art Society in his 12th attempt

He enjoys his dual roles both as a teacher surrounded by students and as a sculptor working in solitude in his studio at home. A sketchbook where he expresses his ideas, experiences and observations is his constant companion. His recent sculptures, the head series in bronze are inspired by multifaceted occurrences in urban cities. Urbanization and its hazards, construction work in rural and urban areas and their impact on the mind, life in cities and its effect on different strata of society are reflected in his works. Besides drawing and painting, the sculptor works in different media including clay and bronze..

S Kantha Reddy

S Kantha Reddy | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Memorable moments

His most memorable incident is meeting former President APJ Abdul Kalam during the inauguration of the DRDO building in Hyderabad. Kantha Reddy had done a portrait in acrylic of ( research scientist (late) DK Banerjee to be put up in the building. “Kalam sir wanted to meet the artist who drew his friend DK Banerjee’s portrait. He shook my hands and said, ‘You made the portrait of a proud Indian, a scientist who is my friend.’ I couldn’t believe the President of India was appreciating me! For I three days, I soaked in the experience.”

Kantha Reddy is excited at attending the award ceremony to receive a citation and display his work at Lalit Kala Akademi’s gallery. “I feel proud to represent Telangana at this significant platform.”

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