They say change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end! And that epitomises the exhibition of artist G. Ravinder Reddy’s debut show in Bengaluru, which showcases changes in his artistic journey, each sculpture from his exhibition coming together, a standout.
It is his first show in a decade and he is busy, making sure everything is perfect. It is also the debut show for the venue, The Gallery at RMZ Ecoworld in Bellandur, which will also have an Art Walk when it opens its doors on July 8.
“My last show in the south was in 1982 in Hyderabad. This is my debut exhibit in Bengaluru which is also the first show for The Gallery. I have agreed to be the scapegoat!” he says laughing. In fact, meet Mr. Reddy outside The Gallery, his glasses perched on his nose, sporting a breezy blue cotton shirt, linen pants and chappals, and you could be forgiven for not recognizing him as the internationally renowned artist that he is. Its only when you see him unloading his sculptures, positioning it just so, and making sure the lighting is perfect that you realize who he is. Down to earth, no airs about him, he says he believes in letting his work speak for itself.
“I still live in a small house in Hyderabad. My neighbours probably don’t even know about this so called international fame” he says making air quotes, “I think it distracts you from your purpose and doesn’t let you grow and critique yourself, which is absolutely necessary.”
Called Heads and Bodies, Icons and Idols, this is a collection of 27 pieces of his work through the years. “There are pieces from when I started to get recognized,” he says with a nostalgic look in his eyes and a knowing smile, “pieces in terracotta and sculptures from fibreglass.” His early works that are being showcased are his explorations of the female form, inspired by how he saw the Indian urban women in a society that was rapidly emulating the west. The pieces are strong, with a raw beauty and sexuality. The head sculptures, in fact, are so detailed and life-like, you get the urge to reach out and touch them, just to make sure they aren't real.
Starting from the bright red flowers in the women’s hair to her hairpin curls, till the tip of her nose, Mr. Reddy has clearly taken his time to build each sculpture. “I can’t imagine the entire picture when I’m working. It just flows and I keep adding and improvising on the piece, which is why it takes me years. If I had to continuously work on one sculpture, I think it would take me at least two years,” he says.
It is also why unlike other sculptors he doesn’t work with wood or stone. “Wood and stone leave no room for improvisation or additions. You have to be able to see the entire piece before you make it. Once you cut it, it is quite permanent,” he explains, waving his spectacles that are now off his nose.
When he first started off sculpting fiberglass, it did not go down well. “No one accepted it in the art scene; it wasn’t artsy if you will call it that. It’s an industrial material and of course, the subject was different than anything that was being done at the time and I’m talking 1981.”
Heads and Bodies, Icons and Idols is a throwback, not only to art connoisseurs but also to Mr. Reddy himself. “I have always drawn inspiration from life around me. It is like looking at the changes in my own perception through these years. It is the glimpses of the past all brought together,” he says.
From jumping on a train to Vadodara when he was just a boy of 17 bitten by the art bug to showcasing his work at exhibitions in Asia, Europe and Australia, it has been quite a ride a so far. He has had solo exhibitions in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, had his work displayed at Le Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris and the Economist Plaza in London's famed West End, along with numerous installations in Bangkok. His work is collected and showcased in art galleries around the world.
"As flashy as it sounds, the only way to get there is to keep your feet rooted to the ground", says the 61 year old. “It didn’t happen in a day. It started from an after hours drawing class which evolved into me taking a stand and going to art college and realizing that art is actually serious business. Suddenly, it wasn’t a hobby but had me studying books, researching and visiting shows” he says, “The journey has its ups and downs. But the only thing to remember is that one must never arrive. We should always grow and change. Sometimes, if things don’t work out, we should be able to look at ourselves and have the courage to recognize one's flaws.”
What: Heads and Bodies, Icons and Idols, A Solo Show of Sculptures by G. Ravinder Reddy put together by the RMZ Foundation
When: July 8 - September 9 from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm, Tuesdays close
Where: The Gallery, RMZ Ecoworld – The Bay, Sarjapur Outer Ring Road, Bellandur