For artist Kiran Thacker, life at Santiniketan in West Bengal offers much food for thought. Living amid natural beauty, verdant foliage and inspired by the chirping of birds, Thacker follows a routine where post her jogging and gardening sessions, she sculpts and draws for seven to eight hours everyday.
Art by the day
Her subjects are often the people she meets or certain events that brighten her day, be it observing hordes of people trying to enter a bus or the arrival of a circus in town. “All my sketches are inspired from simple living forms and structures. A human face/ body is the most inspirational of all living forms on earth,” she explains.
Nearly 25 sculptures by the artist and some life drawings (based on the human form) are on display at Jehangir Art Gallery. The highlight of the exhibition is a sculpture titled Chai Chai aaro Chai, which means wanting more and more in Bengali. While the original artwork was 10 feet long, an abridged version (6 feet long) is on display at the gallery.
Thacker speaks of her inspiration, “When I returned to Santiniketan from London, there would be protest marches every morning and evening. I found it strange coming from England. That scene is still raw in my memory. So, I decided to recreate it through my work,” she says, admitting that the work has a dual message which delves on rampant materialism as well.
“The protesters are fighting for basic rights and against unequal development. But at the same time, they crave for wealth and material goods such as televisions and refrigerators. Instead they should seek education for their children and better job opportunities, which is more important in the larger scheme of things.”
Thacker admits that the concept for the sculpture was in her mind for the last three years. “But I started working on it in June 2011 and completed the same in March 2012.
It has an Italian wax casting. I didn’t work with a mould; I worked with a wax plate, directly. It was much more difficult but the end result is more detailed. The biggest challenge remains the fact that we couldn’t connect all the pieces of the sculpture properly,” she adds.
Thacker counts the Murgawala, On a Motorbike and Cycle as her favourite sculptures as it was her first creation after returning to Santiniketan. “It was the first view of Bengal after 30 years!
Another is the card player as it captures every detail of my imagination perfectly, be it expressions or the posture,” she says. Most of her works are in bronze as she considers the metal to be ‘the most durable material to work with’. “I have worked on stones and wood in London. But bronze has more life and charm compared to any other material,” she explains.
Thacker admits that art has defined her life all along. “I have always been obsessed with art. When I was seven, I decided I wanted to study art. However, as I grew up, parental pressure made me opt for a degree in Philosophy instead. In 1970, I enrolled at Kalabhavan in Santiniketan and took formal training for seven years.
In 1979, I went to the UK and returned in 2000,” she recounts. Through her art, she attempts to juggle the thin line between staying true to the Bengal school of art and the western influences she has imbibed over the years. “I am attempting to develop a style that expresses myself without restricting myself to a certain genre of art,” she concludes.