CARVING TIME
PALETTE ART GALLERY
04.02.23 - 04.03.23

“I’m constantly exploring the properties of the place of history amidst a fluidity and movement created with  heavy connotations of human reality  and the power of politics in the life of man .”

                                                Rajesh Ram to Uma Nair 

 

 

An artist who contends with surpassing the limitations of the physical constraints of materiality while interrogating notions of perceived reality, power and strength within the history of politics, hybrid forms and the existence of man.

 

Drawing upon his extensive knowledge of nature, history  and anatomy, Rajesh Ram  examines perceived material capabilities  and how man and herbed forms appear  in surprising ways in the haunts of history. The 40 pieces of  stoneware sculptures represent  imaginative ,fascinating  forms, suggesting mathematical perfection to the fusion of half man half animal , while the exterior surfaces reflect dusty ruin amorphousness ,in the textures resembling — metaphors for the human experience and where  real beauty in all of forms and humans including homo sapiens  can be found.

 

 There is a seamless strain of  poetics within the juxtaposition of fragility and strength in the stoneware  forms that he  works with. Within the structure of sculptural vignettes we see a  physical duality which unravels as a parallel to the very notions and paradoxes  of the human condition.

 

This exhibition is a natural evolution of Rajesh Ram’s sculptural work exploring the physical nature of materials, the place of memory and the politics of  human behaviour. Characters leap out of the pages of history.Its like a melange of memories that have frozen into stoneware sculptures that tell stories of the past woven into present day debacles in politics.

 

Homo Sapien series 

 

Ram’s Homo Sapien series is a  Darwinian delight. He juxtaposes the homo sapiens with Indian temple sculptures .“ I have always had a fascination for the roots of human history , it creates an unending  curiosity within me,” says Ram. “ In this sculpture I am  creating a bridge between the past and the present. I have portrayed an erotic figurine style from Indian temple sculptures. I wanted to represent fertility and procreation of civilisations by making these sculptures. Here I have created 10  Homosapien sculptures in different styles and figurations .”

 

Evolution of man 

 

What Ram has done is to create a surreal  environment that evokes the spirituality and naturality of the evolution of man within  relics of Hinduism in the temple sculptures that create not just a corollary of conversations, but  simply add  a sense of tranquil contemplation. 

 

You may know that you are -sitting on a bench inside this  beautiful walled gallery, but the glowing light rays  create  patterned shadows of the sculptural finesse that Ram conjures to create a whole set of design dynamics that go  beyond the  banal to carve a visual history that is unique. 

 

You can almost smell the peculiar musty scent of ancient places of worship, places where thousands of people have gone before you over hundreds of years to think, pray, plead and worship. Sometimes the face sheds tears, sometimes it watches in silent angst, sometimes you see deep love, each homo sapien is an emotive evocation in sculptural finesse and this is the kind of power and quizzical quotient that Ram’s  work emanates.

 

Art and architecture 

 

Blending  religious art and architecture in some works that are wall stories , eschews human and animal depictions, and these constraints seem to be spiritually effective. Visually glorious botanical  patterns and small , specific depictions result in something that feels universal. The pillars and arches  constructed during the golden age of  innovations in math and science, seem to  surely feed such stunning decorative geometries.Human Roots and Spacecraft are two works that play with symbolism and geometry.

 

“ Sculptures and architecture  are records of the past,” says Ram. “  Somehow we can track the passage  of  history through these artworks. It  also talks about human development and so many journeys. So I portrayed the  human brain to show the roots of human existence . I use architectural representation  because it is my favorite expression for my art practice.”

 

Standing in the dim lit  avant- garde space at Palette Art Gallery, looking at the filigree of shadows in stoneware , you feel like you could soar or sink into solitude  within the volume of the room. Some of the most compelling pieces such as  Left Over, Space, Melting Backbone  combine zoological brilliance, articulations  and atmosphere. Even in this technologically saturated age, the simple magic of melding imagery of man and animals as hybrids and shadows  still rivets people.

 

 

Man and nature 

 

Half Head has a hippo with mouth wide open fused into  the head of man. “ When I sculpted this roaring hippo  a few years ago, I was narrating the  story of power,  and the travelling notes of history. Half Head represents the politics behind the throne . This composition is the creation of  a scene of how my mind plays back the  narration of the beauty of the reality of  History and its multiple elements,” says Ram.

 

Ram’s man and nature hybrid pieces give us a sense of wonder at both the elements of inclusion as well as exclusion. It is like a journey in intersections. Ram  translates these contradictory feelings into his sculptures , by creating a contemplative space of his own making of dualities that is open to all. He uses simple means to dramatic effect: a single, human head or figure and plantar fronds and roots shine through intricately created botanical elements made from stoneware and treated with ash. Each side of these sculptures are a hallmark of brilliance in juxtaposition and form, repeating  asymmetrical patterns that Ram  designs by combining and adapting different decorative elements he sees on various travels to different parts of the world.

 

The antiquated  shapes and forms on the human and animal faces become shadows on the gallery walls. Within the fusion of man and animal forms there is no clear boundary or separation that exists; our moving eyes change the nature of the pattern as we walk freely through the  dense silhouettes in the gallery. 

 

Bridge between past and future

 

As visitors we become part of the imagery  as the patterns project  the facial complexity of the  sculptures . The idea that we are all connected, that the fabric of humanity is inherently interwoven, is a theme that runs through this suite of works in the show. One stellar work is Lucas Bringer of Light .

 

“ This is one of the characters I created in my imagination which acts as a bridge between the past and the future,” says Ram. 

“ When I look into the pages of  history,  something pushes me to think about the beginning of everything . All the  characters that figure somehow  also tell so many  stories from the beginning.”

 

In the patterns of stoneware we see an attempt  to immerse viewers in shared experiences and inclusive spaces. Ram creates his own images of  interpretation. Suspended between past present and future the sculptures  transform the surrounding environment, alluding to the associations of materials and memories.

 

These exquisitely detailed sculptures  are framed into  intricate incorporations of  iconography and textual referencing scientific ,  mystical and cultural commentaries  surrounding creation narratives. In many ways Ram is conceiving his litany of works  as a dialog between science and man . We are taken back to  the story of Earth's creation in seven days, marking  the beginning of the world and in essence, of time itself. In contrast, theories of evolution, which arose during the nineteenth century, chronicle a history that began billions of years before humanity’s existence. 

 

Ram brings all of this alive.He also interweaves a multiplicity of belief systems. This show of stoneware sculptures is an odyssey of blending elements from the natural world, each sculpture becoming a self-contained symbolic universe exploring the fluidity of time and how diverse narratives coalesce and intersect. In the imagination of his own universe the artist Rajesh Ram steps into multiple orbits that transcend time and tide.

 

UMA NAIR

CURATOR & CRITIC