Ankit Patel was best described by late writer and connoisseur of art, Mulkraj Anand as a dynamic sculptor who makes solid matter into curvaceous movement. The curves seek to suggest that solid is liquid. His forms create human rhythms of bodies, which suggest an 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.
I met Patel sir at his solo in Jehangir Art Gallery accompanied with Mrs. Patel, as I fondly call them.
Born in the Silk City of India and now settled in the Pink City. Tell us about your journey.
I was born in Surat, trained in Baroda and now settled in multicultural Jaipur, my sculptures reflect my cross-current journey. My sculptural musings make solid matter move into a rounded movement. Such instants serve as substitutes for life anticipating. My works arouse excitement with their interplay of figurative and abstract with texture.
I have travelled an extensive journey as a sculptor from Gujarat to Rajasthan with nostalgic intervention to look back and explore the arrival of visual culture down from childhood memory lane to the present day. My native village, Mota Varachha gives me the power of imagination and 34 years affiliation with Rajasthan, that allowed me to explore the craft of carving the rich heritage of my civilisation.
You have been honoured as the pioneer of Kinetic Art in India. How did it start?
Over the years my sculptures, in bronze, stone, and wood, seem to have a life and energy of their own. They represent various movements. My composition has evolved over the years through constant experimentation. I gather inspiration from folk and farm traditions. I was always interested in 3D in open. I had my first exhibition in 1981, it showcased my wooden kinetic sculptures.
How do you define colours on your sculptures as they give a natural appeal?
Colours play a significant role in my sculptures. Though most of the sculptures in bronze look same in their hue and texture, there is always an alteration which is projected. I like the rustiness and roughness in the colours of my figures.
Your work in ‘Familiar Sounds... Lasting Silence’ has many observations. What made you recall those memories?
‘Familiar Sounds... Lasting Silence’ is all about the sounds from day-to-day life tools, objects, which are now on mute mode. The typewriter going tuck, tuck. The harmonium playing its sur sangam. Bells jingling while sugarcane is crushed to sweet juice, the clickety-clack of a sewing machine, the routine ringing of a school bell... sounds of everyday life, which I had left behind in my village, 39 years ago.
A life that revolved around tunes and beats that defined a sense of lilting music. Sounds which people wouldn’t give a second thought to, but I have drawn inspiration to work on fashioning a whole series of sculptures by blending mechanics and music. Each sculpture has an element of lyricism, the reality of the machine taking over human existence and yet there is a victory of the soul to see all that is beautiful from within the world he seems to have lost to the past.
Your last show at Jehangir Art Gallery was connected to our common heritage. What was the inspiration?
The success of an artist lies in giving full scope to suggestion and interpretation. My works are those things which we miss in our daily life. I have experimented with many mediums and finally found creative satisfaction in cast metal.
The artist, like a deity, infuses life and movement in it…. The Wheel, aptly coined as a force of life, is synonymous with change, movement, growth and even spirituality. The wheel moves through phases of life, taking on different meanings, telling a different story and always conveying an intensity that is synonymous with change, progression and completeness that stems from constant incompleteness. The image of the wheel stands in the centre of my work in this series and in almost all other works done before.
Do you miss the limelight of Mumbai art circles?
Not really as I frequently visit Mumbai. Honestly, Jaipur is not as active in art as Mumbai. I get ample peace in the Pink City to work, work and work.