A colony of ants is frozen in motion. They seem to trudge across a wall and around what appears to be three golden domes and work together, typical of their behaviour. But here, they are made of copper and brass.
National Award-winning artist Maria Antony Raj’s sculpture, titled Ants, says volumes about his preoccupation with natural phenomena that inspire human behaviour. Ants and his other sculptures that have been in the making for the last 15 years, now stand in DakshinaChitra Museum’s Kadambari Art Gallery for public viewing.
The artist, who resides and works from Cholamandal Artists’ Village, is a man of very few words. But his work speaks for itself.
A sense of fragility emanates from his sculptures that look closely at animal behaviour, that is often, unknowingly, mimicked by mankind. His fascination for anthills is what inspired him first to conjure up figures that resembled the shape, but comprising varying elements.
“The ant has always been seen as a social role model to humans. From folk tales and proverbs to moral stories, the ant is portrayed as hardworking, honest and cooperative. Though small, the ant has succeeded,” says Maria. The way in which ants share food and work in union, is another metaphor that often presents itself in his work.
On the other hand, his series titled Butterfly features delicate, visual takes on how birds and insects interact with the magarantham (pollen) in flowers. Entirely made with brass, copper sheets and wires, these are also mobile sculptures that Maria says “have just the right, subtle movement, but have not lost their form in the space.”
Of late, the artist has been engaging a lot with mobile sculptures. “When the sculpture is kept at a fixed place, it seems to be still and aloof. I always think of ways to make it more communicative,” says Maria. Butterfly etches out an oft-seen scene at the park, of butterflies in pursuit of a flower to comfortably settle on. While the petals are done in brass sheets, the anther and pollen are made of copper wires.
He says his “deep approach” towards such simple occurrences is what lends itself to a sculpture. And why does he stick to such themes? “Globalisation and the current struggle to retain cultural values, leads me to keep it simple.”
Butterfly:an essential of life is on display at DakshinaChitra Museum’s Kadambari Art Gallery till January 30.