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iSculpt at IIC Chisels Memories around Scholar Keshav Malik at 100

In Arts
December 08, 2023

Two dozen modern sculptures by as many masters grace the front yard of India International Centre in a meditative melange, upholding the artistic quest of Keshav Malik in whose memory the cultural world is organising a pioneering exhibition in his centenary.

If paintings occupied a pivotal place in Malik’s writings, the 15-day show dedicated to the art critic into his 100th year has focus on sculpting. Named iSculpt, it throws light on multi-faceted Malik’s relatively less-noticed love for three-dimensional works in a variety of mediums.

Organised by the Malik-founded Delhi Arts Society (DAS) in association with IIC, the December 7-21 event curated by art historian Uma Nair was inaugurated last evening at the pool-side Gandhi King Plaza amid the presence of an array of cultural personalities. Sangeet Natak Akademi former Secretary Usha Malik lit the ceremonial lamp, marking the start of the event which was announced open by dermatologist-cosmetologist Dr Simal Soin and fashion designer Ritu Beri.

Adding vibrancy to the function was an invocatory dance by Bharatanatyam exponent Geeta Chandran, earning viewer appreciation that was formally expressed by DAS president Neeraj Gupta, whose two works are on display at iSculpt. Among those who spoke included IIC President K.N. Shrivastava, a retired bureaucrat who also served as the Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India.

For the visitor to not miss out the admiration Malik (1924-2014) always had for photography, iSculpt features a set of monochromes. Gracing the IIC’s Quadrangle Garden, the seven-image set is by young Manoj Arora.

Entry is free for iSculpt, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No break on Sundays.

Curator Uma highlighted the representation of both established and emerging modern sculptors at the exhibition. While emphasising the need for a series of tributes to Malik in his 100th year, she recalled the “prophetic” words of late physicist M.G.K. Menon as a member of IIC that works for the promotion of the arts. “In 1998, he had wistfully expressed the hope of IIC hosting a major sculpting show one day. Today we have realised that dream,” Uma noted in her introductory speech. “Indeed, iSculpt has artists from across the country.”

Danseuse Geeta, in her 15-minute presentation with background music in a garland of Carnatic ragas with popular Hindustani equivalents, ensured that the choreography played up the beauty of the works around at iSculpt. Lauding her artistry and presenting Geeta with an artefact from his famed collection, DAS’s Neeraj went on to recall his earliest association with Malik in the mid-1990s. “He was as humble as knowledgeable,” the sculptor said, also recounting is festive Rakshabandhan days at the house of Malik’s sister, Kapila Vatsyayan, another late cultural icon.

IIC’s Shrivastava honoured Simal and Ritu after their inaugurating iSculpt.

Among the renowned sculptors at the show, besides Neeraj, are Amar Nath Sehgal, Satish Gupta and Himmat Shah. While women (Sonia Sareen and late Rini Dhumal) total two, the mediums of the works overall include wood, stone, metal and terracotta. The others artists are G. Reghu, Arun Pandit, Biman Das, Dhananjay Singh, Harsha Durugadda, S.D. Hariprasad, Parmod Mann, Rajesh Ram, Nimesh Pilla, Phaneendra Nath Chaturvedi, Muzaffar Ali, N.S. Rana, Ankon Mitra, Vipul Kumar, Satish Gujral, Ram Kumar Manna and Bhola Kumar.

This weekend, poet-philosopher Dr Karan Singh will formally launch the iSculpt catalogue. The 60-page DAS publication, which designer Mukesh Mishra conceptualised along with Uma Nair, is sponsored by Tarun Khanna of 108artprojects.com. DAS was established in 2005.

Malik contributed regularly to leading newspapers and was the editor of literary weekly Thought. Simultaneously, he curated art exhibitions within the country and abroad, while also serving at the National Gallery of Modern Art and the equally prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi.