Friday Review

In flight

The imposing sculpture at Tirupati

The imposing sculpture at Tirupati   | Photo Credit: 30dfr garuda1

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Arun Pandit says his sculpture of the mythical Garuda in flight can be a lesson in understanding oneself.

Delhi-based artist Arun Pandit’s creation a gigantic garuda sculpture graces the new integrated terminal of the Tirupati airport, recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The young artist, who works in the Garhi studios has had three solos so far. The sculptor reveals the making of the sculpture in an email interview chat. Edited excerpts.

The sculpture

This work is 6ft in height and abut 7 ft in breadth. My work is about Garuda, the vahan of Lord Vishnu. In traditional mythology the garuda is half-man half-eagle but in my work I show that a man can be like a bird.

The man has 12 hands to give a sense of movement to the work. I wanted it to be dynamic so I created 12 hands spread on two sides and placed them in such a way that if you look at it from a distance, it seems like a man with wings. I created one small hand in the centre under his chin so that it has an expression. Garuda is known to be a creature with many thoughts. It had great wisdom and I wanted to show a man in a thinking posture even though he is in a state of stress. In this work I have used the mould as well as the image of man so you see a larger and smaller form merging into one. You also see man's face as part of the mould.

Garuda and Tirupati

Garuda Puranas speaks of the mystery of death. In Tirupati everyone comes in search of peace. The image of Balaji attracts you like a magnet. I have read the conversation between Vishnu and Garuda which is about life, death and life again. It is believed that after we die it is Garuda that carries our soul to its final destination.

Man’s soul/aatma is waiting to fly because it wants to leave earthly cares and fly towards moksha. That is why in Tirupati at the Tirumala temple there is a Garuda Sewa festival which is so sought after. The beauty of Garuda and Tirupati are the many tales that surround this beautiful relationship. I think in today’s world this friendship between Lord Vishnu and Garuda can be very inspiring for us. The symbolic image we are left with is of the bird taking flight. It is a great moment in understanding oneself.

Work with bronze

My association with bronze began in 1993 when I made an Ashoka Pillar for a commissioned work in Bihar. I have got many commissioned works in the state of Bihar. Lok Kavi Bikhari Thakur and Gaj Graha were two of them which were both done in fibre glass. I used this money to finish my Masters in Delhi College of Arts in 1997.

A major problem in sculpture today is that when projects come there is not enough money to pay for the casting of bronze which is why so many projects are done in fibre glass. Then sculptors don’t have space to create. As a sculptor I was given place in Garhi in 2006.

I didn’t have money to make my own works in those years so I started doing works in fibre glass. It was in 2006 that I started working in bronze again. It is expensive as a medium and I try to do works when I get little bit of money. Whatever I create for myself is always in bronze. Bronze is a historical material and its maintenance is minimal and has a very long life.

Upcoming shows

I would like to do my next solo at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Delhi. I think it is the best space in the country and ideal for a show of sculptures because of its set up.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:15:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/in-flight/article7819230.ece

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