Life is Game
Triumph rises out of failure. Defeat can be turned into victory. The human spirit can stumble, miss a goal but at that precise moment of a penalty shoot out, it lifts itself up, shakes the dust off and drives its whole being into that one last chance to win. Such moments are eternal, such moments serve as synonyms for life. Ankit Patel observed the Indian Hockey team face failure. He took to rebuilding an equation of sport with life. The inherit link between the two was fused by the artist in his sculptures. Life is a game, it’s a balancing act and that needs concentration, stamina, a strong mind and body. The sculptor has grasped the basics. His art is never conceived in a vacuum, it’s an outcome of visual imageries. The village near Surat, where he grew up, gives him most of his imagination. Simplicity comes from his rustic roots that others from urban spaces find romantic. The floating, lyrical rhythm of rural life is intensified within his mind space. “Can you think of a piece of art that changes every time you look at it?” Ankit’s creation of kinetic Art incorporates actual movement as a part of design and his ‘sporty sculptures’ are about balance, speed, motion and movement.
The inspiration for these fifteen pieces comes from the acrobatic sports that were performed during a mela in his village. It originates and has its roots in the traditional ‘Tamasha’ which served as a form of playful revelry in most villages of India, each lending its regional flavor to typify it. Sports sculpt the body, intensify the pulse and strengthen the mind. The traditional rural games and the spirit of simply playing for entertainment make Ankit’s ‘mobiles’ speak of earthy charm, emotions are let loose in fluid motions. Simplicity and freedom are mated. Ankit answered, “can you think of a piece of art that changes every time you look at it?” There is strength in the muscles even without a ripple in the sinews, there is grace and fluidity in a body balanced over a pole, their faces are bare, bodies eloquent. One of Ankit’s sculptures has been chosen by Olympic Fine Arts Committee to be housed in their permanent museum and will be on display during the Beijing Olympic Games, 2008.
Our rural sports are entrenched in using local equipment which is available at no great expense. If you like at Ankit’s sculptures, they signify the use of balls, poles, stilts, wheels, and the whole trajectory is established by strength of the muscles being used by the simple movement of leavers. The seven and a half feet statue of a father and son playing with a ball, with the child reaching out and stretching beyond the limits of his stature are symbol of the spirit of sport and of the give and take between the two generations. This along with Team Work has been chosen for the Olympic games this year. ‘Team Work’ conveys the play at ball and also synchronization with each other in the game of life. In its stillness, the sculpted piece speaks of the desire to win, to reach out.
Mallakambh is an old Maharashtrian game which used a long cylindrical pole and required a person to climb to the top and perform his exercises on it. It has been portrayed by Ankit in four different stances. The fourth in the series is a mesmerizing stance of four human bodies in gymnastic motion, rippling to achieve perfection in their movements. The tension in the muscles is conveyed with calm repose. The mind, body and spirit are in prefect alignment. Walking on stilts during a mela was a common sport. It was also used for a village crier to make announcements and advertise activities as well. Two poles juxtaposed together held by a rod which was used for walking from one to another, required tremendous balancing skills. It is also representative of the theatrical tradition of ‘nautanki’. If the Greeks felt deeply about the indispensability of sports or the Celtics were an athletic race, abounding in their prowess at sport, Indian sporting instincts also go back to ancient times. What Ankit’s sculptures convey is the need the revisit and re-inspire ourselves towards it again. Kinetic Art incorporates actual movement as a part of design.
In his sculptures, the ‘Game of Life’ and ‘Reaching Beyond’, the kinetic energy is symbolic of the how the human being arches, curves, changes his posture to acquire, win and move on in life. A playfulness, a willingness to burst forth, comes out in ‘Swingers’. One can almost hear a whoop of joy as the body swings, its arms balancing the upside down pose. There is a sense of freedom, of escape into the joys of playing and enjoying, it seems like a heartfelt appeal by the artist to return to our instincts, our love for sport. A simple use of base with a lever on an incline can turn into a tester for strength as the body pushes it down, making it work like a one way see saw, in ‘Power at Play’. In ‘Circle of Life’ and ‘The Game’, Ankit has captured the unflinching spirit for playing the game. The bodies are in rhythm and energy flows from one to another, the nexus of control and power comes into play. ‘Freedom’ makes a statement, of a step taken a push, surge to move forward, doggedly determined. These sculptures speak, they are examples of how soundless voices can translate the feeling through movement cast in mould, the textures worked in bronze. Balanced over a hurdle, holding a ball, conquering heights ‘Crossing Hurdles’ is the quintessential expression of playing the game. Primeval vibrations from life are used as a creative force, just lifting moments as they happen and holding them is his ‘cast’. The deliberate effort makes his men, women and children look spontaneous. View each pieces from any angle; it is complete.
Ankit Patel is a dynamic sculptor who makes solid matter into curvaceous movement.The curves seek to suggest that solids are liquids.
His forms create human rhythms of bodies which are elastic and suggest elasticity of the human body where flesh is breathing.
His Kinetic creations which exude form in every movement can only be revealed by his skill and presentation.
Mulk Raj Anand