Mumbai

Sculptures open up city dwellers’ minds to farmers’ toil

Though-provoking: Ratan Saha poses with his work ‘The Chariot’ at Jehangir Art Gallery; (right) the window is another sculpture on exhibit at ‘Gods of Seed’.

Though-provoking: Ratan Saha poses with his work ‘The Chariot’ at Jehangir Art Gallery; (right) the window is another sculpture on exhibit at ‘Gods of Seed’.  

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Ratan Saha depicts the rough and tumble of farm life through 18 works

‘God of Seeds — The Farmers,’ an exhibition of sculptures depicting the transition from the abundant fertility of farmlands to the dispossession of farmers by agencies supposed to take care of them is under way in the city.

The 18 thought-provoking sculptures, by the city-based Ratan Saha, depict his deep concern for farmers in India. His interaction with Maharashtra’s farmers has been compiled in a video installation titled, ‘Reflection’.

“I derive inspiration from Indian sculptors like Ramkinkar Baij and western sculptors like Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore. With the advent of globalisation, there has ceased to exist any one form of art. For me, the subject has always been more important than the form,” Mr. Saha said.

The sculptor said what struck him the most was that no other profession has seen as many suicides as farming. “That inspired me to take up the subject to help give farmers their due respect. I travelled through the villages between Mumbai and Aurangabad, speaking to 150 to 200 farmers and other distressed families, where farmers committed suicide for ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh, to understand the situation,” he said.

Mr. Saha also interviewed rural farming and social justice activist Anna Hazare for a better understanding of farmers’ plight. He has used brass, copper and 11 to 12 tonne of bronze to make all the sculptures, working over almost three years for his project.

Sculptures open up city dwellers’ minds to farmers’ toil

“I have decided to give away a part of the money I receive to the farmers if any of these sculptures get sold. That would be my way of giving back to the community. I am also open to hosting an auction if I find an able organiser,” Mr. Saha said.

‘The Chariot,’ an 8-ft-tall tractor, which weighs around 800 kg, has been adorned with jewellery, utensils and sculptures of cattle on the wheels, serving as a reminder of everything a farmer gives away to buy a tractor. Mr. Saha said it cost him about ₹15-16 lakh to make this piece.

Another 6-ft sculpture, ‘The Father,’ depicts a pregnant man to represent the fact that when it comes to farming and agriculture, a farmer incarnates as a mother. Alongside is the ‘Tree of Knowledge,’ which reminds the viewer of the banyan tree under which the Buddha gained his enlightenment. ‘The Window’ depicts the hesitation of farmers’ children to take up the profession.

“The audience needs to understand that there must have been a lot of physical and mental hard work behind what looks so effortless and impeccable,” said Mr. Sangpal, an art student from Dehradun who dropped by to see the sculptures. Chandrakant Patel, an art collector based in London said he had great interest in sculptures and had seen a lot of such exhibitions, but the concept Mr. Saha was depicting has never before been explored in sculpture.

Visitors can view the sculptures between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. till November 18 at Jehangir Art Gallery.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 10:51:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/sculptures-open-up-city-dwellers-minds-to-farmers-toil/article29995573.ece

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