Even before I met artist and sculptor Dimpy Menon, I met her art. On my way to work many years ago, I would pass an art gallery and often see on its feature wall, the doodle of a human figure cradling a lotus. Just a few lines but there was immense warmth in their flow. A warmth that reached out and touched me when I first met the artist whose doodle it was, at an exhibition of her work and instantly knew why everything she touches becomes a thing of pulsing joy. It is because she looks at life as an unfolding miracle..as if it were a lotus slowly opening its petals in the human heart. Her human figures are not restricted by time or space, are not brooding or ponderous. They leap, they fly, they reach out to the sky and just looking at them can be an uplifting experience just as meeting her can be a lesson in how to lead a simple, productive, creative, fulfilling life. How to flow, when to ebb, when to grow silent and when to smile as if the whole world belonged to you.
If you are an artist, it is your life that is invested in your work. It is your karma to create. Obviously, life and art do not exist separately, they meld. I have been extremely fortunate to have had clients who have wanted my work for itself. Some of the clients are giants, so it is wonderful to work for them. Occasionally if somebody I have a good relationship with requests me to maybe incorporate a suggestion – like asking for a male rather than a female form in the same composition – I do so. It does not in any way compromise the integrity of the work. That is something I hold very close.
How was the Alila, Bangalore journey like?
It has been a joy to work for the Alila. They were so generous with their space and never once interfered. I didn’t even have to show any preliminary drawings. The spaces inspired each work, and it has been a great canvas for my works in terms of scale. Its also gratifying that they have loved the work and are very happy with it.
How has your craft evolved over the years? What has become easy and what has grown to be the next challenge you want to master?
Obviously when you work with a difficult medium, you learn something new each time; you understand the medium better. It is an ongoing process. I am able to foresee technical problems earlier now, and that is a great advantage considering this is a painstaking, tough and time-consuming process. It has also taught me great patience which doesn’t come easily to artists because we are always in a tearing hurry to materialise our vision.
What does it take for a sculpture to realise itself from an idea?
From its birth in the mind to reality, a sculpture needs to have the staying power to engage me. That is the abstract thought. In actuality, it is the age-old lost wax process that is used. It is a tried and tested method, and ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’.
How much time do you take to finish a large sculpture and what are the different stages involved?
If one is working solely on a single large work (a life size figure), it would take between 8-10 weeks. The process is: the sculpture is first made in clay, then a mould of it is taken, the mould is lined with wax and then inner and outer shells are built around the wax form which is then de-waxed leaving a hollow space into which molten metal is poured. The shell is then broken – it is disposable. Then the finishing (or chasing) process starts using power tools, files, chisels etc. After this comes the patination. Then the highlights of the figure are brought out and the colour is fixed with liquid wax and turpentine.
What has art brought to your life..
Art has always been there in my life since I was little. It is an integral part of me, and therefore my life. It has brought me great joy and eternal gratitude to have the capacity to create.
Reema Moudgil is the author of Perfect Eight (http://www.flipkart.com/perfect-eight-9380032870/p/itmdf87fpkhszfkb?pid=9789380032870&_l=A0vO9n9FWsBsMJKAKw47rw–&_r=dyRavyz2qKxOF7Yuc