At the Women’s Day Show Yatra Naryasthu at the NGMA Delhi are a series of ceramic works by practitioners of the art of ceramics.
Indian ceramic artists have for the past 3 or more decades experimented and explored dynamics of design and the many nuances of the wheel and the dimensions that drape the feel and fervour of making a pot. All these ceramic are mentors. This suite pays tribute to 3 eminent potters who passed away. Jyotsna Bhatt from Gujarat, Manisha Bhattacharyya the raku mistress from Delhi and Madhuri Jalan from Kolkata.
Dipalee Daroz works with the alchemy of combustion while Kristine Michael explore histories and forms that go back to antiquity. Shweta Mansingka creates a historic panel that stands for the epitome of an epoch in the creation of the womb, while Manjari Sharma exudes quaint peculiarities in her two figures. Porcelain artist extraordinaire Leena Batra’s owl platter has about it the feel and passion for perfection while Sarswati of Auroville creates a House on Seven Winds that has architectural nuances and rhythms.
Manisha’s Song of the sea
Amongst the three raku pots by Manisha Bhattacharya the finest in glaze and the realms of the environment is Song of the Sea.
The priestess of raku in India was Manisha Bhattacharya, this was a welcome opportunity to ponder her lyrical gift and shaman like prestige in the art of meandering the smoke on her raku ware that were intrinsically Zen in mood and tonality. In this work Song of the Sea , Bhattacharya perfects the crackle on a small raku pot that speaks of the opposite elements as she works in on just white and smoky embers in time. The other two black and white pots mirror the ying and yang of life.
Leena Batra’s Owl Platter
Wheel thrown porcelain, carved and decorated with underglaze, when dry glazed with matt transparent glaze, fired to 1320 degrees.
One of India’s greatest ceramic artists, her finesse with raku and porcelain are so prodigious she needs to consider a book on her practice that crosses more than 30 years. Meet Leena Batra the porcelain poet, the soul behind Delhi Blue Pottery .In this show at NGMA , her owl platter is the cynosure of all eyes.Vintage vitality and detailing both brim on this platter that stands on its own in terms of treatment and pattern and perfection of form.
Porcelain as a material is strong, it however carries with it an air of fragility. It is of this earth, yet can be transformed to attain a precious luminosity. These same paradoxical qualities apply to human life – the strength of human character and individuality masks the fragility of human lives, hanging by an unseen thread.
Blending natural forms with monochrome palettes or experimenting with strange, intriguing pieces that beg further questioning, Leena has always been finding reasons to reinvent herself. Her vessels and pots and platters have always been representations of both fantasy as well as a rare infinity, as she weaves into her sculptural creations the signature of the past and present. Irrespective of manifestations, in all her work, she finds her own insignia of peace, a universal truth that personifies the beauty of an alchemy of combustion.
The scale of perfection of her pieces underline her seemingly never ending exploration of horizons, both literal and figurative. Her work, exhibits various textures and gives way to the idea of an expansive aura that is mirrored and circled by nature.The owl in this case done in an abstracted form has about it a rippled resonance, in this matt finished platter we sense the rhythms of biodiversity -elements stand out in deft strokes-the beak the eyes, the pair of feet at the rim of the platter.
This delicacy evokes a sense of authenticity in her work, as her fabular forms seem to twist and turn in the many different moods of the wind that whistles through the trees.Technical prowess, patience and engineering go into a Leena Batra platter. Some manifesting as larger geometrical shapes, others coming together in an ever evolving experimental fashion.
Kristine Michael untitled
Manjari Sharma’s Two Women
Manjari explains her sensibility in creating a pair of women in conversation. “ Conversations is a work that holds a deep fascination for me. I have always been extremely in awe of what happens between two people, in the said, as well as the unsaid. It is nothing short of magic, that in an ever evolving universe, spinning and changing every moment, two people cross each other to come in sync and exchange their universes. There are words spoken, looks exchanged, a body language and silences in between. The exchange between women has captured my imagination even more.
There are so many layers to this exchange. So many emotions and the sheer complexity of it all is mind boggling. This work is about all of this. These forms are wheel thrown and then hand modelled. It is fascinating how these figures choose to emerge out of clay to have there own characteristics. I have no clue as to who will be born in the studio that day. There is never any planning here. The sculptures are made in stoneware clay. They are fired to 1280 degrees centigrade. I love retaining the raw textures of clay and often only use oxide slips for colour. Here I have used cobalt and iron oxides.”
Saraswati’s House on Seven Winds
The complexity of her designs, with their various reliefs and contrasting surfaces — sometimes smooth sometimes matte shining with a lunar brightness, there boasting a rough nap as if soaked in shadow — lead us to suspect Saraswati has a raft of sophisticated tools. In a world of precision she is spontaneous.
Creating an unruffled, oneiric quality of her presence, as creates a suite that are infinitely relaxing and meditative to the eyes.
House on Seven Winds, is an with anagama fired stoneware, with multiple glazes, embellished with fireable gold solution, 2020. with dimensions of 32x13x12 cm.
According to Saraswati : ” This object with all it’s nomadic spirit – built well but not cozy place to be in, it reflects to our world and all over the absence of illusions. In this work for the first time I incorporated a piece made simultaneously by my 6 yeas old son. He insisted he helps me with this work and agreed to make a few fragments (it turned out to be five) for me to choose from. If you observe well, you might see his tiny but accomplished futuristic city-like piece. In February 2020, right before the world stopped, but at the time when no one could even think of anything unusual, we had an International Anagama firing with the artists from Russia, India, Ukraine, Italy and France at Phoenix Pottery, Auroville. The House on Seven Winds was one of the results of that powerful firing.”
True ceramicists work by feel, and intuition. Saraswati’s small intriguing installation reflects her need to feel something. A bit more like this. A bit more like that. The remarkable, wafer-thin surfaces of her work are only possible because she works in long hours of perseverance, to pursue a rare method of working to create stoneware than hinges both on reality and fantasy.
Ceramic Melange -Jyotsna Bhatt-Saraswati-Manjari Sharma
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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