The stone and terracotta sculptures by P. S. Nandhan on show at Prana are inspired by Nature
IN 1979, some valuable personal items were stolen from sculptor P. S. Nandhan's house. Who might be the thief was a question that never ceased to bother him. Even as he moulded clay with his hands, this was a nagging question, till suddenly one day he came up with a mask. Was it the identity of the thief? Perhaps... he felt relieved. Since then, for the past 20 years, Nandhan has made 2,000 masks and has come to be known as "Mask Nandhan."
Though he prefers to work with stone, he constantly handles clay, just like a musician keeps practising. Naturally, one cannot practise with stone, hence moulding clay is a `sadhana' for him as it helps in conceptualisation, relieves tension and gives him a feeling of liberation.
Several terracotta sculptures by Nandhan are on display at "Prana," Anna Nagar. Some of them are grey, a colour obtained by adding specific chemicals while baking.
His granite sculptures appear simple, even stark. No complicated or confusing details or embellishments. Sometimes the concept is not immediately clear, but with careful observation the idea emerges. A `Sea Plant' may not appear as such to a viewer; but it is a continuation of what the sculptor had seen earlier, perhaps even a fungal growth in a garden, which has got transformed into the final piece. Or take the stone figure which sits as if welcoming visitors to "Prana." Though most people would identify it as the Buddha, Nandhan calls it the "Shadow," because a shadow can be interpreted in any manner. At first glance, the "Black Ganesha" appears like a fish, but take a second, more careful look and one is able to comprehend it. "Mother and Child" and "Pet Bird" are also interesting pieces.
Nandhan says that he never makes maquettes or drawings before starting to chisel stone. He just begins chipping away, allowing ideas to evolve. Sometimes an idea takes shape fast and a sculpture is completed in a few days. But at times, it may take weeks or even months. As Nandhan had initially learnt painting; he uses some of the techniques on stone.
Instead of colours, he creates different tones on the stone itself. Quite often one sees a light and shade effect in his sculptures. Nandhan achieves this by polishing some areas deep black or carving horizontal or vertical series of lines or just leaving the stone surface rough. The spiral as in the "Sea Snail with Spiral" or a series of curving lines and basic shapes such as circle, triangle, etc., which go to make the total concept, guides the eyes and the mind to metaphysical thoughts.
Nandhan's stone and terracotta sculptures are on show between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at "Prana," D6, Sixth Street, Anna Nagar East, till April 22. The works are titled "Natural Origins" because the sculptor's ideas and the materials used are inspired by Nature.
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