DHRUVA MISTRY

Prints 1988-1998,
introduced by Pramod Ray,
Gallery Espace, New Delhi(16 pages)

 


From the North I
Etching, 1988



first
Leaves from Ire:
Thoughts about Things,1998



 

 

 

 

 

 


TOP


ISLE OF ENIGMA

Dhruva Mistry's work is synonymous with brilliance, when his Man with Dog and Walking Man were exhibited at the Fifth Triennale in New Delhi, 1982. These figures; free-standing, life-size, sky-clad. painted-naked and in the image of man, share the same floor as the viewer and when encountered, pose a barefoot-query reaching beyond the public-transit of a gallery. The result was an unprecedented installation made possible only by his absolute control' of materials.
In 1981, Dhruva had received the British Council Scholarship for the Royal College of Art in London. His dexterity of handling mind and medium had aroused critical interest. William Feaver, the art critic of the Observer was quick to include his work in As of Now, a survey of contemporary British art at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool,2 as he had found Dhruva's sculptures to be extraordinarily impressive.3 Dhruva was carving a niche for himself and gradually began standing head and shoulder above the others.4 As a non-European artist, he has the rare honour of being elected to the Royal Academy of Arts, at 34 the youngest since Turner.5 Dhruva's contribution is unique for the time he has spent abroad from 1981-97 until he decided to work in Vadodara again,6 and the core of his output reveal that rustic-shaft of ancient Indian tradition of heterodoxy and questioning.7 In Britain, his work has left an enviable public presence culminating in the Victoria Square sculptures, in the heart of Birmingham; the second largest city. Dhruva is probably the only sculptor who can handle round mass so well, grand, serene, and truly monumental.' His maverick scepticism contributes to an ecleticism beyond the reach of fads avoiding comfort of a style for the clarity of purpose.

This is Dhruva's second one-man exhibition since 1981, Mrs Renu Modi's resolute persuasion to show his work now has made this exhibition a reality. From the North, an edition of 1 0 folios were made from his share of the prints editioned by the Glasgow Print Studio in 1988, containing 6 etchings and 2 drypoints. Dhruva's sense of atmosphere is akin to a camera-shy photographer unfolding a tightrope walker's performance as a master draftsman.Crisp and crystalline, the prints capture tranquillity of the moment. The human, the hermit and the overman emerge as characters with the acknowledged tension.' Thoughts about Things: Leaves from Ire, a set of 26 prints, was editioned as 7 folios by Anthony Wilkinson Gallery in London in 1998. In spring 1995, Dhruva visited the coast of Ferriters Cove in Dingle, southern Ireland, and reacted by exposing certain ideas with his camera in the land of eternal mists. moss, peaty beaches and teething rocks. From the edge of the Atlantic emerged the finding of each image. Dhruva's artist friends, Jim Savage and Sarah O'Flaherty's catalytic support for the visit has made his findings visible as a revealed journey. Dhruva's juxtaposition of images with the words of Nietzsche just reaffirm that," There would be nothing that could be called knowledge if thought did not first re-form the world in this way into "Things," into what is self-identical. Only because there is thought is there untruth.

Pramod Ray 1999

  1. Dhruva Mistry, Sculpture and Drawings, Introduced by William Feaver and essay by Sheena Wagstaff, Kettle's Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge,1985, p.4
  2. Peter Moore's project 7, 1983, a major biannual exhibition, included artists like Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, Gillian Ayers, Muli Tang (a scholar from Peking at the Royal College of Art), Barry Flanagan, Bill Woodrow, Kate Blacker and Dhruva Mistry among others. The exhibition was toured to Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin in 1984 and in 1985, Proud and Prejudiced, a selection of works was shown at the Twinning Gallery, New York by the British Council in London.
  3. Royal College of Art Rector's Report, 16th Meeting of the Court, London, 1983
  4. Balraj Khanna and Aziz Kurtha, Art of Modem India, Thames and Hudson, London, 1998, p.45
  5. James Delingpole, Indian is youngest RA since Turner, The Daily Telegraph, June 3, London, 1991
  6. David Cohen, Hegel would have approved, The Independent, Section two, October 4, London, 1996
  7. Amartya Sen, My Host The World, Q&A, The Times of India, Monday, February 8, 1999, p.10
  8. Peter De Francia's letter to the artist, following his visit to Birmingham to view the Victoria Square Sculptures, June 23, 1993
  9. Harold Alderman, Nietzsche's Gift, Ohio University Press, 1986. Mistry's interest in philosophy, often with reference to Nietzsche among others seems constant from his student days in Baroda.
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