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iSculpt by 24 Artists is Delhi’s Tribute to Scholar Keshav Malik

In Arts
December 04, 2023

Keshav Malik’s unique observations about paintings kept unveiling his insight about art, but the late critic was equally scholarly about sculptures. Aptly, an upcoming event in celebration of his birth centenary features two dozen works cast and hewn by modern masters.

iSculpt, spanning 15 days, is set to be held in the national capital, starting this Thursday. As many as 23 sculptors will exhibit their masterpieces, paying homage to Malik (1924-2014). The December 7-21 festival, which showcases the creativity of both established names and the up-and-coming, is being organised by Delhi Art Society (DAS) in association with India International Centre (IIC), Art historian Uma Nair is the curator of iSculpt, which will be formally inaugurated by fashion designer Ritu Beri and dermatologist-cosmetologist Dr Simal Soin in the sylvan premises of IIC.

The opening ceremony at 5p.m will start with an invocation by acclaimed classical danseuse Geeta Chandran, positioning herself between two prominent sculptures at the show. Present at the ceremony will be an array of visual artists, including the participants of iSculpt. The show at IIC’s pool-side Gandhi King Plaza and Quadrangle Garden will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Entry is free.

Uma Nair notes that fellow Delhi-ite Malik was a “great admirer” of European master-sculptors. “Their concepts impressed him a lot. All the same, he loved exploring Indian sculptors who delved into the roots of our philosophy,” she adds, recalling Malik’s research years spent in Italy and France during the 1950s.

Among the renowned sculptors at the December 7-21 event are Amar Nath Sehgal, Satish Gupta and Himmat Shah, besides DAS president Neeraj Gupta, who is instrumental in organising iSculpt. There are two women: Sonia Sareen and late Rini Dhumal. Overall, the mediums of the works include wood, stone, metal and terracotta.

The others 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, besides young cameraman Manoj Arora with his select set of nine monochromes. “Malik was a huge fan of photography, especially monochromes,” Uma notes.

DAS seeks to reiterate the importance of meaningful public art in Delhi, according to Neeraj Gupta. Led by him for a decade now after Malik founded it in 2005 following a rally of deliberations also with his sister Dr Kapila Vatsayan (1928-2020) known for her deep knowledge about performing arts, DAS has been organising numerous exhibitions and seminars, primarily in association with IIC.

“The idea was also to cultivate future generations of artists with a potential to create meaningful sculptures in public places,” points out Gupta. “To further this cause, my studio in Makrana (in central Rajasthan) has been helping artists in a big way.”

As the curator of iSculpt notes, Neeraj is an ambassador for public art installations in the country. “His much-acclaimed elephant sculpture with pots was part of the India Art Fair 2023,” recalls Uma, who began the year as the curator of the Sculpture Park at capital’s Bikaner House and is ending it now with iSculpt at IIC.

Malik, for decades, contributed regularly to the art pages of leading newspapers and was the editor of literary weekly Thought. Simultaneously, he curated an array of art exhibitions within the country and abroad, while also serving as an advisor to the National Gallery of Modern Art and an executive member of the equally prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi.

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.

Malik, who migrated to Delhi, 600 km southeast of his native Miani village in Punjab Province of undivided India, has 18 volumes of poems to his credit. Even while being involved in visual arts, he co-founded the Poetry Society of India and was also president of the Poetry Club of India.