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Colours, contours and crows

Katrin Zuzakova initially felt like an animal in a zoo in Bangalore. But the Swiss artist is now enchanted by the city


ON THE last lap of her residency in Bangalore, Katrin Zuzakova is looking forward to a short trip to Hampi. Early April she is off to trek in the Himalayas before returning home to Switzerland.

As one enters her apartment in Bangalore, her home for three months now, one is struck by the long paper scroll pasted on the wall. The vigorously drawn monochromatic sketches feature a set of black birds. Some of them seem highly charged, screaming and fluttering, while others are passive. The effect is haunting, thanks to spontaneous lines, strokes, and smudges which create an intense visual experience.

"I was struck by the crows here," says Katrin. "There are so many here. They are quite aggressive by their looks, but then you also realise that they are quite sensitive." It is not just the crow that features in her sketches, strewn all over the apartment. A variety of surreal figures — both human and animal — are seen in striking postures and situations. There is a child-like quality in the lines and strokes of sketches laid on the floor or pasted on the wall. Some of them are small, no more than the size of a postcard. They do not seem to belong to any particular series, but what is common to all of them is the dynamic rendering, totally shorn of any decorative implications. Sketches and drawings often have a definite and direct connection to Katrin's sculpture.

Thirty-year-old Katrin cannot recall any particular reason for choosing to be a sculptor. "I have two sisters. One is a musician and the other a dancer. My mother is a teacher, and father, who hails from the erstwhile Czechoslovakia, is a computer professional. Fortunately, my parents supported my decision to be an artist and a sculptor."

Fond of sketching and drawing from an early age, Katrin joined an art school in Zurich as a teen. Subsequently, she honed her sculpting skills under expert guidance during a two-year stint in Italy, appreciating various techniques and handling different materials. She observes and explores the contours of the human figure in her sculptures. While placing the figure on the centre-stage, she deliberately avoids giving the smooth decorative allure, so common in traditional prototypes.



Katrin Zuzakova feels it is tough to be a sculptor anywhere in the world.

On the other hand, her pieces are coarse in character. Her impressive catalogue shows tall, lonely figures in differing postures. The faces and limbs are intentionally devoid of any detailing, to enhance the intrigue and intensity of the sculpture.

Katrin feels it is tough to be a sculptor anywhere in the world. "Unlike painting, a sculptor has to endure physical challenges. There is also a huge investment to be made on the material, and one never knows whether the finished product would be accepted by the market. It can be quite stressful, particularly if you are not yet in the big league."

Even though she holds three to four exhibitions of her works every year, she is not particularly excited about the commercial prospects for sculpture in Switzerland. "There are hardly any professional collectors for sculpture out there," she laments. "People are extremely choosy and still prefer decorative pieces which they can show off in their homes. And the galleries are not of much help either in promoting young sculptors."

The Zurich-based sculptor, who terms Bangalore a "crazy place" — and sometimes felt like "an animal in a zoo" herself during the first couple of weeks of her stay — is now enchanted by the city. Some of this enchantment, she assures, will figure in her future works.

ATHREYA

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