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Glass idols

Post Time:Oct 24,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:309

Picture the alluring eyes of a red Durga, the serenity of a blue-coloured Krishna with his golden flute, and the amber grandeur of a Ganesh. These glass sculptures are a part of The Gods in Glass, an exhibition by Kolkata-based glass artist Uma Singh, which starts at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, on 25 October.

Singh, 72, will be showcasing 47 glass sculptures of gods and goddesses, which have been made infusing other materials like metal, stone, wood and fibre-glass. “But this exhibition isn’t only about traditional imagery reinvented through glass. I was fascinated with the design of these figures, the rhythm of the lines in Nataraj, the dynamic grace of Durga, and the simplified geometry of the Ganesh. Also, I wanted to exploit the transparency of the material to induce the play of light and its refraction through broken pieces,” she says.

Singh is a self-taught glass artist; she learnt the craft by reading books and watching video tutorials. She finally started working with the medium in 1982. “Back then there was no one in India to teach me this art form. Even stained glass wasn’t available and I used to collect it from construction sites in Calcutta,” she says.


Uma Singh

By early 2000, when she started working on this project, Singh had already worked on numerous site-specific installations. “I was dissatisfied working primarily on two-dimensional, site-specific installations, and so I transitioned to exploring three-dimensional forms, experimenting with different glass-working processes.”

There are numerous glass art techniques like glassblowing, cut glass and copperfoil. Singh has used the cold-carving technique in this exhibition, where the artist works with the glass in its cold state rather than when its molten. It also incorporates working with kiln-formed glass, where glass is slumped into or over a mould.

It is well known that glass is a very difficult medium to work with as it is brittle and causes cuts and injuries. However, it is equally unpredictable too. Nobody knows what will come out from the kiln. It’s all a game of constant trial and errors,” says Singh, adding that she was not at all religious when she started this project. “But now I believe in glass gods.”

Besides unpredictability and brittleness, working with glass also calls for ceaseless waiting. Singh says that each glass work takes at least three months to form properly. “Not just for the installation, but I also have to wait for the material as I export my stained glass from the US and Europe because they are unavailable in India,” she says. “And so, anybody who asks for rationality in my work won’t find any. It’s more like a labour of love, which I have worked on most of my life.”

Kolkata-based artist Subhaprasanna Bhattacharjee—who met Singh when she was starting her career—says: “Sculpting icons in glass has consumed Uma’s artistic life. But with her innovation and experimentation with different forms and techniques, this exhibition will open new aspects of the traditional Indian sculptures.”

Consumed or not, Singh says now she wants to retire. However, she will keep her romance with glass alive by making sculptures for the family and her grandchildren, and maybe do some exhibitions. “But it won’t be a solo show as I’m too old for that now. I only see myself as a part of some group exhibitions in future,” she says.

The Gods in Glass is on from 25-31 October at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/jkoJ0nYBWwf9XsDLr6Author: shangyi

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