Uttarayan sculpture symposium, Vadadora, 2007

Dhumal Purushottam  organised the first sculpture project for the newly opened Uttarayan foundation, the brainchild of Rakesh Agrawal.

Early morning walks in the surrounding Gujurati countryside were a source of inspiration.

Partial Eclipse (for R.A.)

As the title suggests, the subject of the sculpture is the story of one (celestial) body partly hiding another. But it is also, and more importantly, non-metaphorically, the legible index of it’s own physical making. In the beginning, some 15 or 20 years ago, whilst walking in the forest, I must have seen a branch, cut it and took it back to my studio. It became a partial guide and starting point, a lost armature for the soft, modelled wax that partially enclosed it. The departure point for most of this work was the elegant and fragile, near verticality of tree trunks and branches and their inclusion into the shabalanjika doorjamb figures I studied in India in 1987. I sought branches that expressed the existence of a fusion between the stance of these sculptures, “a slight tribangha” and the curvature of the incipient forms. These branches, natural ready-mades, established the primary verticality, the pose of these sculptures in wax and wood, the forked bifurcations distributing off the filled and unfilled sides. The assemblage of the much worked, wax elements is visible in the casting, they flesh out the form of the sculpture, their loosely assembled convexity punctuated by the negative impressions left by the pressure of the artist’s hands. Through them the sculpture takes shape, but they do not fit exactly, like outsized tattered clothes or flayed flesh, they approximate, coalesce, but remain uncertainly grouped, recognisably participating in the same family of forms, but shying away from the smooth complicity of truly “finished” sculpture. The overall organisation of the form obeys the logic of foundry, “only connect”, all parts communicate, no external runners and risers are necessary. The sculpture’s parts (as with the shalabanjika and the tree sharing sap and blood) participate together as a vector for the circulation of the bronze, which flows and fills out, irrigates the fired, dry, empty form. This is a re-incarnation, a refleshing out made in homogenous metal of the heterogeneous wax and wood of the original, lost without record in the firing of the foundry mould. Each piece in this series is unique, an individual story of it’s own making, a narrative in three acts- the felling of the tree and the recovery and storage of it’s branches by the artist, the construction by direct modelling in wax around the wood, and the subsequent transformation of the original into metal by the lost wax and wood casting process. The mould is broken open and the light reveals the structure, one shape partly shadowing the other, a partial eclipse.

Peter Briggs, Delhi, February 2008.