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Aikyam: Oneness

THE SOURCE OF ART

Art really has its source in the transcendent,

The unmanifest field of pure consciousness,

Which is the non-changing, immortal field of possibilities.

That supreme intelligence, complete in itself, designs the activity and destiny of all creation.

When the awareness of the artist is in tune with this centre of infinite creativity, his creation, his piece of art, breathes fullness of life,

Nourishes the creator, the artist

And inspires his admirers with waves of bliss.

MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI

 

FROM FORMLESS TO FORM – the elements

Vinod Daroz has a profound and evolving relationship with his craft. It determines his processes, conceptual explorations and the formal aspects of his artmaking. The body of work that has come together for the exhibition offers both - glimpses of themes that have featured recognisably in his visual language from the past, as well as intensely new elements that have developed in recent times. The series of installations and sculptures represent Vinod’s continued explorations of form, and a deep engagement with his studio practice throughout the fluctuations and disorientations attributed to the effects of the pandemic.

The body of work reflects an undiluted celebration of the ceramic medium, as well as the artist’s wide experimentation with technique and presentation. The objects he creates are aptly born from the union of the elements – earth, water, fire, air and space – resonating with the trajectories of inquiry and research that he invests in his artistic deliberations.

 

Aikyam: Oneness

At the very core of Vinod’s articulations lies his reverence for the sacredness of nature, and a homage to the eternal union of male and female energies. The cycles of birth and death, the evolution of life, the primordial contemplation of the microcosm and macrocosm, and the powerful balance of the universe itself arise from this notion of union. In the Indian context, Samkhya, one of the six accepted systems of philosophy, elaborates the interrelationship between the principle of matter or substance, nature - Prakriti, and the conscious energy or spirit, the male aspect Purusha. Purusha and Prakriti are considered the two basic, opposite and independent principles of creation that cause and sustain existence. According to Samkhya the world comes about as a result of the union between Purusha and Prakriti. It is the coming together of matter and consciousness that generates life; that breathes continuity.

Vinod Daroz employs motifs like the egg, the butterfly and pupa, flowers and buds, shells, seeds and the most powerful symbol of oneness – the linga and yoni, or the sacred representation of male and female regenerative organs, as the very basis of his creations. The forms appear in abstracted and stylised ways, reiterating the underlying notions of union.

Within his work is contained a deep integration of creative processes and philosophical underpinnings; it becomes a space for expressing his own connection with the physical world and a spiritual one. The objects that grow out of the gestures of his hands, enfold within them aspects of his past and present; they hold the magic of time and transition that is unique to the kiln processes. The transformation of something soft and malleable as clay, into hard, evocative material rich in colour and texture is in itself a marvel of sorts. Line and form converge; colours awaken each other through juxtaposition; and myriad stories are manifest through the silence of the tactile surfaces.

 

Physical Embodiments of Philosophy

Vinod Daroz’s visual vocabulary is constantly expanding through his interaction with craft histories, material culture and built heritage. At a crucial turning point in his career, visits to temple sites in South India profoundly influenced his consciousness, and he moved towards translating the cosmic symmetry and aesthetics that govern these cultural edifices, into his work. His use of repetition along with geometric grids and mandalas, recurring motifs and rhythmic linear elements bring to mind bands of relief sculptures and friezes across temple lintels and elevations. The rich hues he applies recall the fine painterly quality of traditional murals, patterned textiles or manuscript paintings; and he is often inspired by the subject matter of mythological narratives. His own ancestral training in the craft of goldsmithing introduces the elements of delicacy in design and the quality of ornamental splendour.

His work provides a compelling encounter with the significance of pairing and contrasts; these are formal and conceptual devices that Vinod accesses often within his ceramic sculptures. To begin with, the materiality plays constantly with the idea of the relationship between fragility and strength – for instance, the installations with the cushion forms or clouds, bring the illusion of softness to the hard and cold surface of the medium. The oppositeness and yet interdependence of visual elements, like the lustre of gold contrasting with muted tones; the delicacy of porcelain juxtaposing bold linearity; organic shapes sustaining the presence of angular designs…smooth and rough, embellished and minimal, simple and complex – it appears almost that the subtle friction between the two brings them together. For him, as an artist and maker, these contrasts reveal timeless truths about life, connecting back to symbiotic relationships between micro and macrocosm, male and female, earthly and divine, yin and yang; they explore foundational philosophies about the nature of duality as well as oneness.

The pestle and mortar, a motif and form that is prominent in this series of installations, carries forward a multi-layered engagement with the symbology that unites the genders; the seamless harmony between shiva - shakti. While recognising it as a mundane and functional object across (Indian) homes, Vinod’s inspiration came from his experience of iconic temple sculptures and sacred narratives. The ideology of the form recurs in other works and organically, the feminine entity achieves prominence in the case of some sculptures. There is also an infusion of heightened colour, and external detailing – both of which require systems of meticulous technical planning to achieve in ceramics.

Additionally, the understated introduction of red thread in a few works at once changes the surface configurations, and takes the mind to rituals of prayer and devotion, protection and blessings.

Early in his explorations of the ceramic medium, Vinod realised that wheel-throwing was central to his creative direction and best suited his sensibilities and formal articulation. However, it was never his intention to turn it into tableware. Rather, moulding clay at the potters-wheel, shaping familiar forms of platters and bowls was for him a mediative process of creating sculpture. The format became the core of his expression and the basic structure to host his thoughts. Two decades of experimentation in various studios in India and around the world, have provided him the opportunity to expand his repertoire widely, in material and technique as well as context and design.

The series of platters with the object in the centre symbolise an expansion of the pestle and mortar theme; they also reference a sanctum containing a sacred icon. The circle, a geometric form that has no beginning and no end, radiates energy; it embraces and guards all within it. The receptacles allude to ideas of emptiness and plenitude, significant when speaking of fertility and continuity. Vinod adeptly plays with glazes, textures and varied etching techniques, having strategized and fine-tuned the intrinsic correlation between the two objects that are paired in diverse arrangements.

The subject of butterflies and floral elements are deeply ingrained in the current series as well. As symbols of nature, pollination, transformation and cycles of life and death, the abstract symbolism carries over from the artist’s prior bodies of work. This time, the colourful veneer of the forms injects a new wave of energy into the works.

Endnote

Each finished sculpture in the compilation holds within it stories of its evolution. These installations have made multidimensional journeys from being plain lumps of clay, to being shaped by the artists hands and infused with his ideas. The pieces went through varied stages of glazing and firing, and some of them were cracked and even lost along the way; finally viewers encounter these beautiful objects, coloured and bronzed or gilded, each one an evocative symbol of the elements of the cosmos itself.

Lina Vincent 2022

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