Even as politicians across Maharashtra are engaged in a battle of one-upmanship over a memorial and statue for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, a little-known sculptor in the quaint neighbourhood of Andheri has gone one up on the leaders.
Vijay Shirgaonkar, a second-generation sculptor, has already made a 4-ft tall bust of Thackeray as a dedication to the leader. Shirgaonkar began work on the model last month, well before the news of Thackeray’s illness hit headlines.
“Balasaheb Thackeray was a great leader for Maharashtra but he was also a great cartoonist. And as an artist myself, I understand the creativity and hard work that goes into creating a work of art. This statue is a tribute from a sculptor to a cartoonist,” said Shirgaonkar.
The 65-year-old began work on the sculpture on his own. “I did not get any order from any leader to made the sculpture. It is my own tribute for Thackeray. This sculpture shall adorn my workshop for the rest of my life. I will not sell it to anyone. It has been kept for public viewing,” he added.
“I did not have the opportunity to meet Balasaheb, so I decided to dedicate this sculpture to him,” said the artist. He used the leader’s photographs and video clips from television to form the base for his model.
Shirgaonkar is currently working on a series of statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Shivaji Maharaj.
Vijay Shirgaonkar has been a sculptor for the past 40 years. He passed out of JJ School of Arts with a Govt Diploma in Art. He works out of a studio near Mahakali caves, Andheri that was set up by his father, Ramchandra Shirgaonkar, also a sculptor.