The world of Musui and Maya

K.S. Radhakrishnan’s latest show depicts movement and intangible elements

November 05, 2018 07:51 pm | Updated 07:51 pm IST

Everything is life and everything is form. Both the visible and the invisible. Mist, melted metal, vapour — sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan gives physicality to it all. In his fifth show with Art Musings, titled The Song of Small Things , he once again brings alive his patent figures of Musui and Maiya and with them free-flowing smaller figurines that fill the space around the work like air does. If Musui — inspired by a Santhal boy who modelled for Radhakrishnan when he was a student at Santiniketan — and Maiya, his imagined companion, are to be seen as the archetypical man and woman pair, then these tinier forms could well be their offspring. These figures then, much like children are unrestricted in their movements and directions. Like the countless cells around us that defy control, they represent omnipresence itself. As though suggesting what is within our access is only a part of the whole. Meanwhile, life goes on around us, oblivious to our stories, existing, moving, turning and bending.

Shifting time

Radhakrishnan’s 24 odd bronze sculptures defy gravity, while interacting with a range of everyday objects, which are metaphors for domesticity. From idli-makers to steam irons and pots, the artist plays on his own nostalgia and memory of childhood. There is evidence of a journey, in the fluid movements of his pieces. One that is ongoing, but perhaps yet without a final destination. On a poster at the show, Professor R Siva Kumar, art historian and writer states, “…[these] sculptures showing un-gendered, identity-less bodies in migration is essentially about liminal spaces. Boxes, vessels, and every kind of receptacle and surface into which they fly… or cling onto assume identities — become home, city, the world — through human occupation.” By observing the inanimate and by addressing it, Radhakrishnan has created a sense of bonding, where empty spaces are vacant no more, but filled with the living, the breathing.

The constantly shifting forms are also a comment on the temporariness of time. “These figures remind us that life must be treated as a verb form rather than a fossil noun, a choreography of alternative futures rather than a freight of deadweight pasts” says Ranjit Hoskote, art critic and independent curator, on another poster that’s part of the wall display at the show. Watching Radhakrishnan’s animated creations feels like lying beneath an open sky and watching the clouds drift by — proof of the passing, ever moving time. Like life, time’s forward march is also a moment of celebration for Musui-Maiya, who are seen dancing beneath a bursting cloud made from a cluster of little figures — one of the many guises they morph into throughout the show.

Harmony with nature

In their quest for motion, Radhakrishnan’s works also defy the basic attribute of sculptures. What is by nature still and unmoving is suddenly full of vivacity. When one thinks sculpture, one is already feeling the weight and mass of it. But with Radhakrishnan, the lithe lines of Musui-Maya augment a sense of movement. Even the little figures from a distance resemble dried twigs, blurring the line between nature and man. In the world of Musui and Maya, humans are merely a personification of nature.

The show is ongoing at Art Musings, Colaba till November 23

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