14 Dec 2008

Carved in Stone

(Nalini S Malaviya)

A magnificent statue of Krishna catches the eye as one walks into the room to meet Sudarshan Sahoo, the sculptor from Orissa. Intricately carved in stone with extraordinary detailing and ornamentation, it is a beautiful work of art that reminds one of statues seen in temples in many parts of the country. In Bangalore to showcase his recent sculptures, Sudarshan Sahoo explains the finer nuances behind the art of stone carving.

The well known sculptor has created a ‘Shilpgram’ an arts and crafts village in Bhuvaneshwar that offers vocational training in sculpting to students and children.
The 1939 born sculptor has dedicated his entire life to revive and promote the traditional craft of carving statues from stone. Sahoo is a recipient of the National Award and the Padmashree amongst numerous other honours that he has received for his contribution to arts and crafts.

“Selection of stone such as sandstone, red or green stone, granite or sometimes wood is carefully done to suit the sculpture in mind. Every stone has a different characteristic, for instance, red stone lends beautifully to and reveals different tonalities at various depths and creates a beautiful effect”, explains Sahoo. A basic design is translated on the medium and the intricate detailing is mostly done ad hoc, as the work evolves.

Stone carving is a difficult craft that involves a lot of painstaking effort and happens to be extremely time consuming as well. “A small statue can take up to ten months with about 5 people working on it, whereas a larger work can take almost 2 to 4 years,” describes Sahoo. The ornamentation which appears as mere decorative detailing in the first instance, on a closer look reveals mythological tales and fables that have been engraved with utmost care. His statues of Buddha have travelled far and wide – many of them have been installed in Japan. “In Japan they love the serenity and unique features of Buddha that I am able to capture in my statues,” he elaborates with pride. His sculptures also stand out for their museum quality finish.

In the forthcoming exhibition there are Ganeshas, Buddha statues, Nandi and Apsaras or the dancing girls. It will also have a massive 9 feet tall and 12 feet long chariot that is truly a work of art. Figures of deities, geometrical and other traditional motifs are used extensively to decorate the sculptures. Sahoo and his entire family are now working on a mammoth 110 ton piece of granite to create a statue of Lord Parasnath which will stand at 32 feet height when complete.

The richness of our heritage is beautifully reflected in these statues. As Sahoo puts it, “people talk about the precision in Swiss watches, but look at our traditional crafts it is full of fine and precise work.” He goes on, “We want more people to come and see the kind of work that our artisans are capable of.” True, it is important to appreciate efforts that go towards conservation of our cultural traditions and to promote them in every way.

The exhibition will be held till Dec 19 at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

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