Uttarakhand has been inspirational for many including Atul Sinha. Atul is a multi faceted artist, who has worked across mediums. I have known him and his work for some time now.
To read about his sculptures inspired from the valley of Uttarakhand, published in the Hindu at:
Read the unedited version here below:
The hills beckon again with a ray of hope
Shiva’s trilogy is a set of three sculptures inspired from the Trishul of Shiva, with touches of temple architecture from Pauhri in Garhwal district, there is Aradhak with lingam like formations, half man half woman Ardhanarishwar series, Mukti, a boat shaped form with the third eye of Shiva carved on it, omnipresent in each is the Lord of the Hills - Shiva in various symbolic forms. This and more are the sculptures made by Atul Sinha in the last eight years drawing inspiration from the peaceful hills of Uttarakhand. For Atul Sinha, a multi faceted utilitarian artist of the traditional mould, Uttarakhand has been an escape and a place from which he has imbibed consciously and unconsciously little nuances which are reflected in his work. As Atul says, “Whenever I drive up and walk in the meandering Himalayas it takes me to a different trance, tranquillity, serenity with positive shakti, which propels me to create forms in my medium.” The medium is wood – shisham or rosewood genus; his creativity overflowing into over 100 forms in the last eight years. Atul grows pensive now at the mention of Uttarakhand saying, “it is a man made tragedy and people have wrought havoc there. Earlier Shiva was protecting and it was serenity and bliss. Now, his anger has been awakened so what is happening is destruction or dance of death. Shiva is a creator, protector and destroyer. It is the last which has been awakened.” Brightening up he adds, “so what, landslides happen in Hills all the time. The place will bounce back. As in Mythology, once Shiva’s anger subsides, it will heal. It will take time, but is not finished yet. The peaceful virgin untouched places have been an inspiration and they will continue to be. I am planning a trip there soon.” Educated at Sanawar and with a BFA (Sculptures) from The MS University, Vadodara, Atul has experimented with various mediums including ceramics, ink and, kerosene, glass etchings, foam bricks, paper machie, bronze and of course wood. Atul says, “I graduated from ceramics to wood.”
It is with wood that one sees the play with the textures, the grains and the final treatment. He uses the natural surface of the wood, yet shaping it to reflect his thought process, the sculptures literally come alive. There is precision and a sense of natural rhythm in the work. It might seem sacrosanct to suggest that art can have an utilitarian component and sculptures can actually be used as a furniture. But that is true, there is an unintrusive element, with its symbolism yet finding a form utility. For example the composition Panchatatva, captures the five elements, these are in the form of near table and stools. His lighted sculptures are a part of the NGMA collection while sculptures for use are in the collection of several galleries like Delhi Art Gallery, Art Konsult and Gallery Ganesha. What stands out about his work is its myriad interpretations.
With Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh becoming more commercialised, it is Uttarakhand that has inspired. As he says, “These works reflect soul, nature and God, expressing the process of life to moksha. The composition elements are from the surroundings, temples, sadhus and local folks. The vision imagery that is embedded in my subconscious mind is transformed into rough sketches, which later becomes into sculptural forms.” Taking cue from the beautiful undulating step farming that dot the hillside, the entire series of work has captured this to perfection giving the pieces a gradient fluid terrace like appearance. The terraces symbolising the harsh conditions of life in the Hills and also the movement of body and soul as one goes in search of Divinity. It reflects the physical motion of going round and round the hills. Atul says, “it was rough when I first did the Shiva’s trilogy in 2008. I later finished and perfected it in 2010.” There is Mukti in the form of a boat, reflecting the tranquil peaceful moment of death with the ashes being rowed to be immersed in a river. The boat can double up as a seating piece as well. In Shiva’s trilogy, the winding road of the hill leading to the Almighty Lord Shiva is captured perfectly, the smallest piece draws inspiration from the spout of the Shiva Lingam and the temple architecture of Uttarakhand. Each of the piece has a Lingam like formation at the top. In another interpretation, it is a form of cosmic unity – the creator, protector and destroyer.
The boat called Aradhak is a prayer to the place. The Ardhanareshwar shows the man and woman separated – connected yet separate. It is almost amazing as to how Shiva especially the Lingam is used in different forms. It is symbolic yet subtle. There is Shristi, the all encompassing woman, mother earth or nature. The Kalyug 2 is a recent addition, carved out of a stump of a tree, with an angry, scary face which Atul likens to Shiva’s locks, open and swaying in anger.
As a parting shot, Atul adds, “don’t be too negative, it is a manmade disaster. Landslides happen. That place still beckons and it retains the power to inspire.”