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Fascination for space

Dutch sculptor-painter Joop Haring, who was in Chennai recently, draws inspiration from Nature for his works


JOOP HARING, sculptor-painter from Holland, looks rather young for his age. During his earlier visit to India a decade ago, the now 52-year-old artist was fascinated by the variety that the country had to offer and made up his mind to come again. Recently, he visited Chennai and spent three weeks interacting with artists and trying his hand at sculpting.Besides drawing and painting, Haring works in different mediums such as bronze, wood, stone, cement and steel. "For me, it is the concept, space and its limitations which decide the material and the technique," said Haring. "As I keep working, it is like a discussion between me and the sculpture; it seems to tell me what I should do next." Haring hails from Arnheim but lives and works in Amsterdam, where the museums, art galleries and the studios of other artists provide him an inspiring atmosphere. He draws his inspiration from landscapes, which he internalises; he analyses the forms, sometimes fragmenting them; he finally conceives the imagery by reconstructing them. The bronze piece "Innocent tree" with its simplified form of the foliage, appears like a shelter, creating a deep shadow on the base stone; the light falling through the open spaces leads to the formation of a beautiful pattern. In fact, these open spaces play a major role in his sculptures.

"Into the air", for example, has more open areas; thin rods, which make up a continuous line, move in and out creating a complicated design of interwoven circles; as the title suggests, it has an airy feeling.

His deep interest in organic forms is reflected in many of his works. The leaf of a sea plant is a recurring theme in his sculptures, some of which are low on the floor. Some of these are in more than one layer with open space between them. In combination with metal balls, rods and sometimes water in a small recess, he has made quite a few untitled pieces with multiple materials such as aluminium, cement, bronze and copper.

"Fossil" is a combination of open space and solid form. For instance, "Similarity" is a rather large set of forms arranged in a park at Groeneveld Castle; the idea has been drawn from Nature, reminding one of the annual rings, which suggest the age of a tree. As the segments decrease in size, they create an effect of perspective and depth. Some of these works reveal his ability in handling space.

The three dimensional form of a house is reduced to a flat one in "Dream house", a combination of the original and its shadow. The illusion is upset by the way the two are positioned. In another work done with metal rods, the frame of a house is fixed along a wall; its shadow falling on the wall creates a sense of depth and an extra dimension. Joop Haring also does woodcuts and installations. "Catching the light" is an installation in which translucent plastic sheets have been wrapped around a groove; the light glistens through the sheets and adds a fine texture to the rough one of the trees. A most recent installation has a semi-circle formed by a row of yellow balls on the surface of a lake.

In Chennai, Haring created a few sculptures, based mainly on lines, woven in a complicated way, leaving quite a lot of openings; unfortunately these could not be cast in metal and one of them even broke while handling. But this did not upset him, as Haring considered the whole trip an enriching experience.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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