Nandagopal, a contemporary sculptor with a slant towards the folk

Published - April 15, 2017 07:36 pm IST

S. Nandagopal, the well known sculptor with international reputation had a somewhat unique style in metal sculpture; his works were unidimensional and not sculptures in round as normally they are. Though known to have started as a painter, he was a ceramist , metalworker and even jewellery designer occasionally. He said once, “I don’t think I have ceased to be any of these now or at any time. I have always sensed in me the liveliness of a drawing, the feel of colour, the genius of design and the preciousness of material I work with”. His wandering around the crafts section of the School of Arts & Crafts as a young boy and later as a student – his father K.C.S. Panikkar, principal of the School used to live in the campus – was an attraction and inspiration that he instinctively turned to sculpture quite early. Nevertheless the strength of line and drawing the Madras School has been known for could be clearly discerned in his creations.

Nandagopal’s frontal sculptures were made with welded sheet metal; his subjects covered legends, mythology and ritual, “because I find in them rich figures for the ‘unknown something’ which I feel reflected all around”. He had said in an interview that he got the ideas for his work from Kavachas and the temple gopurams. His sculptures were quite contemporary in expression but with a slant towards the folk. His figurative works were quite pictorial. He had admitted that he was highly inspired by Janakiram, a senior sculptor during his student days, who first began working in sheet metal. He felt indebted to the drawings and paintings of artist such as Paniker, Reddappa Naidu and Ramanujam.” He lived and breathed art”, said his friend artist Muralidharan, adding that “his works were contemporary in an international medium with a sense of Indianness”. He gave his sculptures gloss and a touch of enamel affording a rare richness.

Nandagopal received his National award even as a student in 1970 from the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards including the gold medal from the IV International Triennale India. He was a member of the Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship Committee and an advisor of the National Gallery of Modern Art, besides memberships in many important organizations. Before joining the School of Arts, he had obtained a degree in Physics from the Loyola College, Chennai. Nandagopal (71) passed away on April 14 suddenly through cardiac arrest.

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