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Studying Karmarkar...

It is sad to note that an internet search using one of the most popular engines yields very little information on Vinayak Karmarkar, one of the greatest Indian sculptors of the last century. I am an Indian, albeit living in the eastern parts(Karmarkar is from the west), and I have never heard of him, let alone see his works till very recently(2002). When I did, I was filled with admiration and pride. I am sure he is quite well known in Maharashtra, and probably more so because of those gigantic statues of Shivaji Maharaj than due to his lesser known sculptures of "every-day" people - fishing folk, street urchins, baby in mother's bosom and the like.

But how well-known is he in the contemporary world? Even though fame is hardly an index of quality, that Karmarkar is not readily accessible to people around the world is really humanity's loss, than the other way round.

I have no argument with Moore's work and vision - the minimalist ebb and flow of his planes are thrilling. But in order to better appreciate the lyrical nature of Karmarkar's creations, one perhaps needs to subdue the Modernist Bee in one's bonnet - at least for a while. Karmarkar is not about superlative skill - it is stupid to compare him to any of his more famous western brethren, the Berninis, or the Canovas, for he is less than none of these great masters. What enthralled me more is his loving observation - the sensitive intelligence that picks up not only the minutest relevant detail(a dimple here, a wayward strand of hair somewhere else), but binds them all in perfect harmony. Even looking at photographs of his works made me feel as if I was lying on naked earth, damp from last nights dew, my ear pressed flat against the ground and listening to or feeling the silent heave of nature's bosom. If that bit reads a tad melodramatic, I couldn't help it because thats how I actually felt - I just had to put down all pretensions of intellectual aloofness.

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enlarge a) Vinayak Karmarkar, 18 KB download
b) Fisher girl, 29 KB download enlarge
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c) Kids and Angel, 24 KB download
d) Woman & Boy, 24 KB download enlarge
   

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