'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust

For M Pravat, an actor, singer and painter, urbanisation through buildings in fast growing Delhi/NCR/Gurgaon and the demolition sites, inspire him to create a unique meditative art

'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust
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Rana Siddiqui Zaman

Life they say, is 10 per cent of what happens to you and 90 per cent of how you perceive it. Most artists I know usually abhor the cityscapes, tall buildings and gross urbanisation. But here is one who saw life and beauty in it, despite being city-bred himself and coming from heritage city, Kolkata, known for its colonial structures and old world charm its inhabitant don’t want to stay away from.

For M Pravat, an actor, singer and a painter, urbanisation through tall buildings in fast growing Delhi/NCR/Gurgaon- Chhatarpur and the demolition sites, inspire him to create a unique meditative works of art. It is literally playing with earth, dust, soil, debris, and brick and enjoying every bit of it, alongside encasing the splendour of the dusk to make sure his creations have that twilight effect on them.

No wonder the title of the ongoing art show mounted at Bikaner House in New Delhi is 'Concrete Dusk'. The show includes sculptures, paintings and collages, in a mix of mediums such as brick, dust, slate, wood, metal, graphite, pigment, ink, canvas, and paper.

What steals the display is his massive concrete structures in wide squares, huge rounds and lengthy rectangles. They encapsulate immeasurable miniature bricks meticulously placed in harmony, sideways, above and below never interrupting or crossing each other but existing like thousands of houses in urban India, in a colossal building spread across acres of land.

The stadium seating type of empty spaces between them allow them to breathe while creating illusions of barrenness between fertile growths. Pravat fits bright coloured long, tiles, lookalike of lights between them to break the monotony and draw attention.

Two of these works are created to look like an aerial view of innumerable tiny homes around outsized shining black round dot. It bears sharp resemblance with veteran artist late S H Raza’s famous ‘Bindu’. But Pravat unhesitatingly denies. “It is the swimming pool and how it looks like from the above.” Other creation includes two gigantic balls placed over a thick wooden plank balancing precariously. “It is an urban plan, fragile, still functional”.

Rest of Pravat’s works are colourful paintings with dust stones, which on close scrutiny shine bright like thousands of twinkling stars. In some works, he plays with architectural line, geometrical figures, exploring their connection with other geometrical forms and empty spaces.

The present show has an interesting tale about how it began. As he shifted to Delhi in 2005 from Kolkata, he saw under construction sites, in which buildings were made and then demolished in unauthorised areas despite running water and electricity etc. “I collected debris from there. I conceived my works architecturally. A look at these sites, feels as if on one hand it’s very solid and ornamental on the other it’s very fragile. It can be deconstructed/demolished very easily, manually or by nature’s forces.”

'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust
'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust
'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust
'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust
'Concrete Dusk': Exploring the cosmopolitan through earth, brick and dust

Notably, when he collects debris, it is like bringing memories of the houses that they ones were. He feels happy that he would be able to put life into them once again through his art works.

An artist’s journey is never easy. It has an immense struggle until one day someone believes in his creations. Pravat’s story is no different. An accounting graduate, as a self-taught artist, he did many art camps but finally joined MS University, Vadodra to obtain bachelor's and master’s degrees. Struggling for a long time and sustaining himself by doing odd jobs or taking art classes as visiting faculty, Pravat stabilised as his art practice that examined architectural forms and materials through a fractured lens, drew connoisseurs’ attention and he slowly ended up doing solo group exhibitions, biennales and art fairs in Colombo, Delhi, Dubai, Mumbai, New York, Seoul and Zurich.

This marvellous show has been curated and brought to Delhi by Vida Heydari through her VHC – The Vida Heydari Contemporary, Pune’s newest contemporary art gallery established in 2020.

The show concludes on August 24.

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