- Padma Jayaraj
March 13, 2017
The banyan tree is a symbol for wisdom in Indian thought. Carving on the wood probably started with carpenters beautifying their work. From there it has evolved into artistic creativity depicting a plethora of subjects as times and attitudes change. Art and thought coalesce in Neeraj Gupta, based in Delhi, noted for his incredible sculptures in wood, marble, and metal. Rooted in Indian traditions, both folk and classic, his works display an inner blaze.
In ‘Whispering woods’, part of a group show in India Habitat Center (February 2017), Delhi, his creations showcase the quintessence of his art. Each creation speaks of the artist’s perception, philosophical in tone and his art, intricate in carving. Beautiful to behold, conveying serenity, the hallmark of Indian traditional carvings and its silent eloquence is music to the viewer. The traditional Indian sculpture captures spiritual poise. Outstanding creative works convey transcendence, the soul of artistic truth elusive in life’s shades of grey. It is evident in Indian carvings, in folk totems, in the huge Buddha carvings, and later in the iconic Nataraja. ‘From the Smithy of Soul ’is a contemporary work that naturally follows the folk representation in classical poise, metaphysical in tone and tenor.
This essential poise is the pervading grace of Neeraj Gupta’s creations even when he uses contemporary idioms in his art. Each work of art makes you pause and ponder. In that contemplative mood the artist and the viewer are connected. The communion brings in a mood of serenity. The huge tree trunk carved in a unique manner reminds you of the mystique of a honey comb. Its huge size, its superb design is a reordering of the natural to display artistic truth, the soul of creativity. Its composure, the harmony between the physical and the spiritual, evokes tranquility, the spiritual dimension of his art.
Rhythm in his abstractions is a salient feature of his work. Liberated from form and style each piece whispers something new yet eternal, the resonance that great art swirls within. Harmony in form is his craft that shows the beauty of aesthetic value, that beauty is truth, that the ying-yang twist and twirl is the essence of life and creation. Time, endless in cycles, casting shadows in day and night is captured in abstractions that suggest interstellar constellations, in a harmony of rhythms. ‘Squatter on Bird’ and ‘Squatter on Animal’ are reminiscent of our folk world view. ‘Wanderer’ goes beyond the folk, crossing over to the era of migration.
An artist is a social commentator as well. In fact Neeraj Gupta shot into limelight with his ‘Attack on Parliament’ that revealed superb political irony.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com