Art

Headlong into it

12bgmpReddy3

12bgmpReddy3

In the art world, sculptor G Ravinder Reddy’s name is synonymous with heads. His striking colourful women heads, monumental at times, sport a bun adorned with flowers and hair clips. Not to miss their gaze which is fierce, stunned and penetrating, all at once. They stand tall and alone in expansive lobbies, museums and palatial homes but not so in “Heads and Bodies: Icons and Idols”, his first solo in decades at the new art space launched at RMZ Ecoworld, Bellandur. At the centre of the show are two Krishnaveni heads seeming immersed in a dialogue. “What does the viewer take from it? What would you imagine?” asks curator Lina Vincent, the brain behind the thought. Two is company indeed but what happens when a viewer also joins the conversation?

Conversations and engagement are what an artist like Ravinder Reddy seeks to create. And he chose a woman for it. As he grew, his perception of ‘woman’ also changed but the focus didn’t. In the exhibition of 27 works, done over a span of 30 years, a viewer can see his commitment to the subject. But, why women? And pat comes the reply, “Initially, one was attracted to the opposite sex but as I grew I began to appreciate different facets. She is mother, nature, protector. A woman can be read in many different ways. And also, as an artist, one can play with her hair, her face,” explains the Vishakhapatnam-based Reddy, who first started with female figures during his MFA from MS University, Baroda in 1981. A few works from those series loaned from different collectors are a part of the show. Though clothed, private parts of the young college going women are clearly visible. The works were dealing with male fantasy and obsession with the female body.

Gradually, he began to meditate on heads. He experimented with clay, burnishing it to an extent that it came to acquire its own brilliant finish like the terracotta head with folkish features done in 1989, which is also on display.

He didn’t find any evocative references in modern Indian sculpture. Reddy found in it no Indian ethos but steeped in a colonial expression. Modern sculpture was also too preoccupied with medium and less concerned with meaning. “I was upset with this attitude and that’s why I deliberately chose fibreglass, a neutral medium with no aesthetics, no colour. It comes in a liquid form and can take any shape. You don’t need a big establishment to work with it. My work is not about the medium,” discusses Reddy showing me around.

He was taken in by traditional Indian art first and that’s who you see an engagement with Yakshi figures of our Indian sculptural history. Later, he also got attracted to African, Egyptian and Greek art. “I wondered when we ourselves have such a rich culture, why don’t we borrow from there and develop from there. A work of art needs to stand the test of time and these idols, and sculptures in our temples have. I thought what are the essential qualities in these objects that have kept people hooked for centuries. I discovered that there was monumentality, the way the form was treated and I incorporated it in my form, shape and texture. All my sculptures are painted because colour is so much a part of my life.” Of course, he was fascinated with heads but alongside Reddy also did full-fledged female figures and also couples mounted on a wooden frame. His works from the 90s’ Couple series depicting communion between man and woman are also there. “But they never got highlighted. Heads were discussed a lot but these were the decisions taken by people, not me.”

“Heads and Bodies: Icons and Idols”, a solo show of sculptures by G Ravinder Reddy is on at The Gallery, RMZ Ecoworld, Sarjapur Outer Ring Road, till September 9.

Art in public space

A large bronze sculpture entitled ‘Devi’ will be a permanent exhibit at the RMZ Ecoworld as part of the Art Walk launched by RMZ Foundation’s art initiative. The Art Walk houses a permanent collection of works by contemporary artists like Subodh Gupta (Overflowing dreams), Ravinder Reddy (Devi), Dhurva Mistry (Spatial Diagrams 6), Paresh Maity (Force), Arunkumar HG (The Link), Jayasri Burman (Dharitri)


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 10:03:03 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/ravinder-reddy-decodes-his-women-heads/article19258322.ece