It is a pleasure to walk on the untrodden path, traditionalist call it adventure, the humiliation of failure, pinch of insult are quenched by the burning shower of creativity. The new generation is coming with thrust and Ankit Patel is one of them. He is not conscious of the new kind of poetry he writes in his sculpture, but his zeal of creativity and uncompromising quality will speak one day and it will be a mature statement for which I am confident.
Prof. Mahendra Pandya
14, Manisha Society
Old Padra Road, Vadodara
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
ANKIT PATEL: A REASSESSMENT IN POST – MODERN CONTEXT
(QUEST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF EPHERMAL INTO ETERNAL)
Ankit Patel was born in a tiny village, near Surat, situated on the coastal zone, associated to one of the lucrative trading centre since ancient times. The prosperity of this place is widely known for its diamond industry in the gulf region of Khambat. After a humble beginning of his childhood and preliminarily school education, he joined Faculty of Fine Arts. The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, spending six long years training in the Faculty and came out with postgraduate diploma in sculpture as a specialization in 1983. He moved to teaching profession at Rajasthan School of Art and presently living in Jaipur. This entire period of almost three decades was quite productive and since then Ankit is committed to the art of sculpture in its multifaceted shades. His thirty years affiliation with Rajasthan, allowed him to explore the material culture, craft of carving and rich heritage of Rajasthan and confidently he had assimilated the locally found material with the intricacies of traditional sculptures produced by skilled artisan community of Rajasthan.
On this juncture, it will be relevant to raise some significant issues pertaining to the regional art practices and the contribution of present day artists, mainly in the field of sculpture which strongly reflects a process of marginalization in context to the main stream art practices in wider cultural milieu. Ankit Patel’s contribution is immense and since last three decades contributed significantly and put forward a fresh revivalist urge to relocate traditional notion of wood and stone carving in to a modern image making in more synthetic manner. He assimilated in his art, a balanced mode of expression with the help of mechanics and mobility. One of the paradoxes, in which Ankit Patel was particularly involved, was the question of movement.
Ankit Patel’s interactions with popular art and consumable craft traditions provides him a fertile ground to experiment with non-conventional material forms not usually explored by art practitioners. His modern sensibilities are always forcing him to travel with his art in the so called Mega Cities and their art promotional programs. The result was a regular exposition of his work in various leading galleries of India and abroad. His works can be spotted in almost all the major collections and galleries worldwide. In course of time the connoisseurship of his art had grown significantly His creative energy has no enclosed narrow regional apathy rather it gets elevated when he place his efforts to plead his case of marginalization of regional art practices in to main stream art practices in winder cultural proliferation.
He traveled a long journey as a sculptor from Gujarat to Rajasthan with nostalgic intervention to look back and explore the influx of visual culture down from the childhood memory lane to the present day. In my personal interview, he, once narrated that the folk utilitarian objects with its simple technology, used in agricultural farming mainly the irrigational mechanical devised either used manually or driven by animals. He cited one of the examples of rahanta (a device used for transporting water from the well, ox driven energy source to maintain the pace of the flow of water, made of small metal insulated boxes tied in to a metal chain). For Ankit Patel, it can be called a mobile sculpture if the structure is de-contextualized and placed in a created time and space by the sculptor. Many such objects were spotted by him to trace the progression in true sense of movement.
Art historically speaking, any three-dimensional sculpture or art object created by human hand whether it carry utilitarian significance or solely devoted for its aesthetic pleasure, is having its own living space which exists in a given time. This notion of temporality was a constant preoccupation on the part of its creator and all most all the plastic art manifestations are the outcome of creative genius and the technicality of the medium which determines the shape of sculptor’s sense of time and its fleeting dimensions.
Sculpture created in any medium or in a specific geographical conditions is often has its historic significances in a given socio cultural milieu. The contradiction between fragile and immovability was a persistent factor, responsible for the innovativeness in order to crystallize the sculptors personal intervention in to a domain which is conceived in to a wider cultural practice. In this regard all these striving creative forces are not confined to narrow boundaries of a nation or world or even a pure ethnic type.
Art work never conceived in vacuum rather they are the outcome of a stock of visual imageries stored in to the deep realm of subconscious of a sculptor gathered through a process of assimilations under various living condition of an individual artist. In the art historical past, in Indian context sculptures were created more or less in its strong sense of spirituality and religion but certainly notion of time of space was left to the wisdom of collective consciousness of its creator. Indian tradition of sculptural manifestation is evolved through a process of religious sanctity and was deeply rooted in the social religious order. Indian tradition surpassed that sense of progression during many important phases of Indian Art History. In Indian context, if we look at the textual references to the major dynastic phases, immediately we are struck upon the canonical manifestation of divinities transformed in to a prescribed iconographical system which provides a stock of imageries to the guild of carvers, lost in anonymity. This notion of movement was there to cope up the frozen time which has no beginning and end in its representation through important phases of Indian traditional sculpture. The dynamism of movement or rhythm was an oriental phenomenon and got concertized in various mediums. So what we gather here is a process of synthesis of medium, movement and its frozen immovability which determines the notion of mobile which was taken as a challenging task by the sculptor. But the situation was different when it comes to the modern sensibilities during twentieth century world of internationalism in more rational manner to project the individuality in to a multifaceted technological thrust and its social repercussion which has a far reaching impact. The influence of modern western art can be felt strongly on the Indian front also.
Let us have a glimpse of the western art and its growth in this direction of kinetic notion of movement where material plays an exterminating role to decide the fate of this highly conceptual paradigm of art forms. The traditional notion of movement was replaced by the kinetic art form and this movement inspired Indian artist also.
Ankit Patel’s case can be considered a befitting examples I this direction to see how he is taking his understanding of the concept of mobility and technological innovations to deal with day to day utilitarian objects in its close knit cultural context and its diverse material combinations.
It is really a difficult task to relocate an artist’s life span and achievements in a chronological sequence to get an access to his mind set and the art which he creates. There are many facets to reveal the art of Ankit Patel’s four decades from various angels. His humble rural background and childhood affiliations with his everyday encounter with the visual reality around him, certainly was the major reconstruct which reemerges strongly during his formal art training in one of the prestigious Art Institute of our country. It was this training at Faculty of Fine Arts of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda which had its strong lineage of art-educationists. A good understanding of the medium and a well-planned technical process brought standards of professionalism to contemporary Indian sculpture. Few names are worth recalling are Sankhoo Chaudhary who used the formal tool of cubism to embark upon the body-space relationship, and to develop a dialect of pedestal sculpture. Once entrenched, it conditioned the very notion of sculpture at Baroda for the next twenty years. The mutation of motifs like the female torso, the rooster, or the buffalo for cubistic gestalt was popular at Baroda. Stylization or dissertations of studio or sketchbook drawings were the standard learning procedure, but it was prone to become a way of circumventing subjective questioning. In the flush of this adventure in modern art at Baroda, Ankit Patel encountered his preliminary lessons and his investment of long six years of time offered him a interactive chance to cope up with the diversified mediums, concept and very important was the progressive approach to art and life.
Ankit Patel undergoes a rigorous training and handled all kind of mediums starting from clay, wood, stone and various new synthetic media. By this time Baroda was coming out of its cubistic vocabulary and western imposed influences. But certainly the Internationalism was a eye opening factor which made him conscious to experiment with many techniques and develops a strong control over the inherent potentials of medium which may look superfluous deceiving unless sculptor feels the pulse of that and bring to its tactility. This was the time when this Faculty attracted young middle class student from small towns and villages of Gujarat to the liberal communication system of international trends in art. This was the period when Art education in India was institutionalized more on Victorian pattern and even the premier centers of art education were unable to grapple these issues of identities in nationalistic sense. The inception of Faculty of Fine Arts at Baroda was so crucial on this point of time to liberate art from the rigid studio exercises to more open-mindedness and thus provided a conducive working atmosphere with more freedom of expression.
It was this phases of his initial training days; a very strong headed teacher in the department of sculpture, Mahendra Pandya played a lasting impact on the mind of Ankit Patel. Mahendra Pandya who was from the first batch of student and who went on to head the department of sculpture perhaps reacted against the finesse around him. He developed a more rugged stance in his work. Ankit Patel learnt from him, the eclecticism conditioned not only the choice of assemblage as form, also the juxtaposition of materials, motifs and tool marks. His interest in frontality signaled another misalignment in the prevailing modernist ‘conventions’.
In the 1983s Ankit Patel began making abstract moving sculptures called mobile, and he is often described as the outstanding pioneer of kinetic art. Some of his mobiles were powered by motors, but he is best known for the type that is so light in construction that they are moved by the slightest breeze.
Before looking in to Indian context of pre-modernistic tendencies in we have to recapitulate the dynamic forces thriving in western art movement and Kinetic Art along with the futurism played a crucial role in shaping the deconstruction approaches to the conventional art practices, Indian modern art inspires a great deal from these two major forces.
Kinetic art explores how things look when they moved and refers mostly to sculptured works, made up of parts designed to be set in motion by an internal mechanism or an external stimulus, such as light or air. The movement is not virtual or illusory, but a real movement that might be created by a motor, water, wind or even a button pushed by the viewer. Over time kinetic art developed in response to an increasingly technological culture.
In the western context, in the 1983s the kinetic art from was pioneered by marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo, and alexander Calder. Among the earliest attempts to incorporate movement in plastic artwork were Moholy-Nagy’s Space-Light modulator, a sculpture producing moving shadows made at the Bauhaus between 1922 and 1930, certain Constructivists works, Marcel Duchamp’s Rotary Glass Plate and Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics), and Alexander Calder’s motorized sculptures from 1930s.
The expression Kinetic Art was used from the mid-1950s onward. It referred to an international trend followed by artists such as Soto, Takis, Agam and Schoffer. Some kinetic artists also worked in the field of op art. Their works were influenced by a modernist aesthetic and could be made with contemporary materials (e.g., aluminum, plastic, neon). Most kinetic works were moving geometric composition. In Italy artists belonging to Gruppo N, founded in Padua in 1959 (including Biasi, Costa and Massironi, among others), carried out experiments with light, projections and reflections associated with movement.
The members of the French group GARV, which included Le Parc, Morellet and Sobrino and was established in 1960’s in Paris, created optical and kinetic environments that disturbed and interfered with meanings and relations to space.
The term kineticism broadened the concept of Kinetic Art to all artistic works involving movement, without any reference to a specific aesthetics. It applies to all those artists today who work with any kind of movement, rather than only geometric art. In 1920s Eastern European artists began to experiment with sculpture that looked like machines. They named their work kinetic art in the ‘Realist Manifesto’, a manifesto of constructivism issued in Moscow. Gobo’s work was made up of electrically driven wire constructions that illustrate the prevailing fascination for technology and industry among artists the early 20th century. Other artists, including Marcel Duchamp in France and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in Germany, where making similar works.
A work of art which has movement as a dominant constituent and set in to a motion may be real or imagined. Movement may be mechanically powered (for example, by electricity, or air or water motion), or produced by the viewer moving past a work, or the work given the illusion of movement, such as op art, which appears to flicker. Kinetic art sometime merges with other types of avant-garde art, including performance art, computer-generated art, mixed media, and Installation art, Leading kinetic artists include Alexander Calder, Bridget Riley, and Nam June Paik. In the 1920’s Eastern European artists Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner began to experiment with sculpture that looked like machines. They named their work kinetic art in the ‘Realist Manifesto’, a manifesto of constructivism issued in Moscow.
Gobo’s work was made up of electrically driven wire constructions that illustrate the prevailing fascination for technology and industry among artists of the early 20th century. Other artists, including Marcel Duchamp in France and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in Germany, were making similar work.
Ankit Patel explores how things look when they move and refer mostly the sculptured works, made up of parts designed to be set in motion by an internal mechanism or an external stimulus such as a light or air. The movement is not virtual or illusory, but a real movement that might be created by a motor, water, wind or even a button pushed by the viewer. Over time, kinetic art developed in response to an increasingly technological culture Mobiles (hanging sculptures) and Stabiles (floor standing mobiles) in steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and painted steel.
During last three decades Ankit Patel commissioned in various sizes, metals, or colors for indoor use or for outdoor sculpture garden. Mobiles are probably the most common form of kinetic art. Custom mobiles and other kinetic art by Ankit Patel can be created with a specific theme, certain color combinations, and in any size or material required. Even he shipped mobiles worldwide. These kinetic sculptures are always a huge hit at various important shows in India and abroad. Now you can see his kinetic art in many prominent displays. These captivating sculptures are either gravity powered or have motorized chain lift elevators.
His studies of figural human representations and birds have the same sense of frozen mass with strong undertones of floating effect with a strong sense of lyrical rhythm expressed through the contours of his sculpture as one can be reminded of Henry Moore’s figurative compositions. But certainly, the angularity against the smooth curvatures is a conscious strife in order to gain a sense of progression and rhythm with a humanistic dynamism of emotions and feelings.
If we scrutinize his very productive phase of his carrier as an intense sculptor with a voluminous out put. We will be fascinated to see the number of works he created in last few years like his series of bronze miniatures and black marble capturing the sensuality of feminine and the wisdom of earthly charm through his premeditated intercession and heightened the gesticulations with the help of smooth and serene contours of the body. Though the human torsos are containing a sold mass but give an illusion of fragility.
Ankit Patel’s energy input seeks no limitation, he is having a strong sense of order and his thirty large sized, ten to twelve feet mobile sculptures made out of lightly beaten brass, copper and mixed metals and bears this testimony. This entire range of sculptures allowed him to explore the notion of balance with a deceptive sense of volume in its three dimensional representation. It was a real marathon task for him to assimilate the sense of movement with its fragile light credence and above all to maintain the monumentality of these sculptures. Fortunately he succeeded in this and the end results were remarkable. He never deprived his sense of belongingness to the new ethnic conditions of Rajasthan where he started giving a new meaning to the notion of movement in its multiplicity in to new context and the result was overwhelming in his semi abstract forms of his stationary sculpture which he encounter as a creative challenge.
His studies of figural human representations and birds have the same sense of frozen mass with strong undertones of floating effect with a strong sense of lyrical rhythm expressed through the contours of his sculpture as one can be reminded of Henry Moore’s figurative compositions. But certainly, the angularity against the smooth curvature is a conscious strife in order to gain a sense of progression and rhythm with a humanistic dynamism of emotions and feelings.
Ankit Patel’s restlessness is clearly evident in his sudden shift from one medium to another. During intervening periods, he had undertaken many colossal size bronze sculptures in conventional technique of lost- wax process in unprecedented manner. In these bronzes, he exerted his strong urge to retain his figural affinity with the outside world. In this process of juxtapositions of heavily loaded forms carrying an element of solidity and provoking an esoteric notion of life in more sensuous configuration. Whenever he handles bronze as a substitute to his wooden sculpture, he always enforce the hidden underneath material quality of the metal, and the result is very tactile not in superfluous sense of decoration rather it reflects his innermost desire to create a tension between two different contrasting mediums. His bronzes are therefore, are not carrying the rustic image making on contrary they reflect his tender and serene temperament which reminds his reminiscence of the past in order to cope up the current trend in art in a wider global perspective.
This is discernable in his latest series of bronzes titled as “The force within” which encompasses the serenity of human bound in its various doldrums and shades since birth, growth, love, hate and ultimately leading towards an constant urge to escape from this worldliness. So the pleasures and sorrows of living together and striving at freedom were mainly conceived as metaphors, creating a tactile between formal configurations. These bronze are intense in its textural representations, reflect sculpture’s translucence of the medium and expresses the ecstasy of sanctimonious love, not in superfluous sense of sensuality but a quest between two forces.
His recent drawings are charged with a fierce articulation with an Oriental calligraphic understanding of manipulating surfaces with a strong sense of spontaneity, registering impression of ephemeral time and transforming them in to perpetual world with dynamism. Though the forms are comprehended into solid masses but released with a shimmering energy, unseen, unspoken but intuitively felt by the onlooker.
- Contemporary Art in Baroda, edited by Gulammohammed Sheikh, 1977
- Studies in Modern Indian Art, by Ratan Parimmo, Kanak Publications, Books India, New Delhi, 1975
- Contemporary Indian Sculpture, Lalit Kala Contemporary,
10 September, 1969, Jaya, Appaswamy
Dr. S. K. KUSHWAHA
Department of Art History & Aesthetics
Faculty of Fine Arts
The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
I live in the mountains of northern New Mexico in a town of artists. I am a painter and sculptor, not an academic nor a writer. I am a lover of the visual experience and the language of that experience. I have never met nor spoken with the man, but I recognize him and know him through his work. Ankit is a working romantic. His mind is here on earth, and his soul flies everywhere. The man loves life and nature, and his optimism is infectious. His humor plays in every piece. I find harmony, love, and search for balance in his work.
In his kinetic works:
I see an agile mind solving problems of space and movement. I see the love of natural materials, and natures forms. I see the seed pods opening, birds warming their bodies in the morning sun with wings spread wide. Sea shells on a beach. Small things that go unnoticed made large for all to see. Made large, but all filtered through the mind and eye of the artist, who reveals secrets lying in plain sight.
In his figurative work:
I see an optimist. Humanity, man and woman and child. He works in a time where we all could use some optimisitic humanity. That his sculpture is placed in public spaces is a fortunate thing. And lucky are the people who can see them daily. These sculptures make me feel the joy of a child with a toy. To see play and seriousness come together in an object is a rare delight. Ankit relieves us of the anxieties so popular in our contemporary art and he reminds us of the important things… the spirit of how we should relate to one another.
Excitement builds from the ground up, as metal becomes weightless, rising into the air like a thought. Figure hangs on figure, one entwines around another, gravity is defied, exhilaration gleams from a bronze angle to a bronze curve. Two embracing figures swirl impossibly from a single pillar, they are somehow both mechanical and human. In his unique way, he shows us how geometry and organic shapes can become one. His ability to simplify form and keep it convincing is a testament to his skill as an artist. From a world away I wish him blessings, he uses his wisdom well, and his gifts from God are put to beautiful use.
Ankit Patel is a poet of the motion of the human figure. Often the figures are paired male and female, grouped in dance attitudes, always with a breathtaking spin. To walk around one of these sculptures is to experience the dynamism of circular movement. Speaking of the loveliness of his woman friend, the famous twentieth century American poet Theodore Roethke described his beloved in terms that this sculptor so well understands:
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one;
The shapes a bright container can contain!
The poet Roethke dances with his beloved as do the male and female counterparts in Mr. Patel’s bronze figures:
How well her wishes went! She stroked my chain,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-tern, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
She moved in circles and those circles moved…
How happy I am now to see these themes in Mr. Patel’s recent work expanded into larger than life dimensions, so that now instead of looking down, I can look up and see forms larger than myself, against a background of clouds, sky, and trees. Added to the music of moving circles is the sheer power of massive bronze constructions rising upward. Here I enjoy my own weakness against the strength and might of the bronzes.
Mr. Patel understands what Matisse once said about the power of scale and simplifications of form. Mr. Patel’s figures are represented as easy-to-grasp forms, abstracted, mostly smooth in surface, but sometimes enriched by the pattern of hair or drapery. Often there will be a ductile element, tracing an arabesque line. The feeling of the bronze suddenly becomes liquid. The neck and arms of the figures become stemlike, ending in tender, bulbous shapes, the flower bud of this upwardly rising organism.
Mr. Patel in these sculptures has shown us a glorious mastering of form and space. Though he has a thorough grounding in classical Indian sculpture, his work is truly international in its appeal. His soul is that of a lyric poet, his artistic means are pure and consistent, and his effects are a blend of sensuousness and philosophical/poetic reflection.