FRIDAY REVIEW

Sculpting images

ELOQUENT PIECES: Mahija Chandran's imagination finds expression in paintings, sculptures and installations.   | Photo Credit: Photo: H. Vibhu

SHILPA NAIR ANAND

Mahija Chandran's works are inspired by contemporary events.

A few wooden miniature cradles strung from a metal frame suspended in mid-air and below that a sculpture of an emaciated infant. Mahija Chandran's artistic creations have an uncanny ability to grab attention. This alumna of RLV College of Fine Arts, Thripunithara, is holding her exhibition at Durbar Hall Art Centre, Kochi.

Symbolism

Her installation art draws inspiration from the contemporary as well as the imagination. If the first installation is about childless people contrasted with the plight of starving children in African countries, the next installation at the exhibition is human forms `hanging' from a round metal frame. These human forms (plaster of Paris) are symbolic of the rate of suicide in Kerala. "I draw inspiration from contemporary events, events that have had an impact on me, those that have set me thinking. I just have to," says Mahija, who is a guest lecturer at her alma mater. Also on display are paintings and drawings by her. Most of the installations have drawings (dry pastels) to go with them. "I have to draw what is in my imagination before it materialises as an installation; it gives me a perspective," she says. So there is `Roots' a very striking and powerful piece of work, an installation that is eloquent in its understated nature of being. A combination of metal (iron) and terracotta, the piece has human faces on roots looking upwards, symbolising the motif of quest or as Mahija puts it, "remembering where one comes from no matter what the heights of success one scales." However she adds, "Being a woman sculptor has its handicaps that I have to negotiate. This requires physical labour as well, and, therefore, at times, I need help. In order to avoid having to depend on somebody I have scaled down the size of some of my works." For installation and sculptures Mahija's mediums are metal (iron and brass), plaster of Paris, terracotta, and wood. For paintings she uses oil, dry pastels and rottering. She would like to stick to sculpting as long as her resources allow her to, "after all, sustaining my kind of art is expensive."