Out of the myriad small things that describe the island city of Mumbai, its maddening pace is perhaps its most defining facet. Outsiders might find it hard to keep up with, but everyone is sure to find calm amid this chaos. Thirty-six-year-old sculpture artist Sharanbasappa (Sharanu) Alloli, who hails from Akkalkot -— a small town on the border between Karnataka and Maharashtra — is one such person whose fascination with the city’s constant race against time has egged him on to create 1500 miniature sculptures, featuring Mumbaikars in their various elements during rush hours. He narrates, “When I first came to Mumbai seven years ago, I got off at Borivali station and wanted to board a train to Mira Road, but I couldn’t manage to get on one. They were jam-packed. So I sat there for a while and took out a pen from my pocket and started drawing. For the next one year, I would closely observe how people boarded and alighted from trains and especially how time was given so much value here.”
After sketching 5000 odd images, Sharanu slowly began transforming his sketches into sculptures. At 1500 sculptures today, Sharanu calls the theme of his handiwork, Race Against Time. He explains with a deep sense of belonging, “When I first saw the rush at these railway stations, I decided to explore Mumbai in its entirety — Western, Central and Harbour lines. People would always tell me ‘Mumbai mein bahut bheed hai’ (Mumbai is over-crowded), but I wanted to witness it myself. When I say race against time, I’m essentially speaking about how despite its torrential rains and sultry summers, people are always in a rush to reach office on time. It made me think that while Mumbai held the promise of fulfilling every dream to those who dared to dream, it also took away all sense of leisure. This was how the idea of Race Against Time was born.”
The RPG Art Foundation presents this exhibition to showcase Sharanu’s quest to delve into and explore the many faces of this city we inhabit. In this series, Sharanu has done away with the use of colours and each sculpture stands tall in pristine white. The lack of colour is amply made up by the diversity in personality, attire, expressions, and hairstyles of each of the miniatures and the entire process took Sharanu seven years, since he began work in 2011. And even though this fast-paced lifestyle of Mumbai might eventually become the bane of its existence, the artist never wants for the city to slow down, he says, “I like the life in Mumbai, but people here don’t have time for anything. People are always busy. In my village life is different. We go to the fields, laugh and frolic, but Mumbai is starkly different from my life back home. There is so much to learn from the city and its people. People function like machines here, but Mumbai is now ingrained in me and me in Mumbai,” he avers.
Ask the artist if these 1500 sculptures are enough to capture the essence of his muse, and pat came the reply, “I want to make more sculptures as soon as I get more money. I’m aiming at 5000 sculptures for my next exhibition, ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan hai’, (Mumbai is my life),” he trails off.
The exhibition is ongoing till December 24, from 11 am to 6 pm at The Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda.