Continuing with our series on creative people in Gurgaon, FG has a tête-à-tête with the well-known and highly talented sculptor, P.R Daroz, at his beautifully appointed home in Sector 56.
“Pottery is not an ego building art – instead it breaks the ego. You are making and breaking all the time. When firing, you can't fool around, can't neglect a single thing. In painting, you can change the colours – but here, it’s not possible” says Daroz. Belying his age of 68 years, he is energetic and passionate – and unsurprisingly, a good cook. He quickly brews some excellent coffee. The house, a duplex, has been broken down and reconstructed – as per his, and his wife Dipalee’s, taste. The walls and shelves are adorned with the most exquisite ceramic pieces – his own, and a priceless collection from various countries.
He was born into a family of goldsmiths, in a village 80 kms from Hyderabad. His father, who was a major influence in his early years, was a freethinking liberal, much ahead of his time. He encouraged his son to innovate and think radically. Young Daroz helped his father make clay Ganeshas, enjoying the sensuousness of working with clay.
He enrolled in the Hyderabad School of Art in 1961; and over the next five years studied textile design, metal embossing and leather craft. For his obvious talent, the ‘Andhra Pradesh Lalit Kala Akademi’ gave him a scholarship, in the Ceramic Program. He left for Baroda in 1970, and stayed in the city for 10 years – working professionally as an artiste, and expanding his skills and technique.
As a designer for Shon Ceramics he saw tremendous aesthetic potential in glaze faults – in blistering, cracking, grazing and pin holding; he loved to replicate volcanic, underwater and geological strata, in his murals and architectural works. His first mural was commissioned at Baroda Planetarium in 1974. To give it an original touch, he took his Electric Shaila wheel to Thangarh, Gujarat, where he experimented with rutile, calcined whiting, and crystal glazes, to achieve a totally different effect in a single firing.
His name is today synonymous with large-scale ceramic works in India.
He is deeply influenced by Satish Gujral and KG Subramaniam’s use of clay.
“I was inspired by the monuments of Mandu, with their haunting aura of free gateways and arches, opening out to framed and vast spaces; the grills splintered with glimpses of faces; a lotus pond in full view. The terracotta temples of Bengal, no less inspiring, appeared to me as glorified containers, with demarcated areas of specific acts. If the monuments of Mandu were absorbed in space, these terracotta temples created and appropriated their own ambience.”
His famous works include the pillar series, free standing doorway structures, large warrior pots, and patterned wall murals spanning several stories. The Copper Chimney Restaurant Series, in particular, reflect ‘faces peeping through and divided by grill-like façade structures in doorways and windows, symbolising the psyche as a complex puzzle’.
His huge murals at IFFCO Towers, (New Delhi), Hyatt (Mumbai), Reliance Industries Office (Mumbai), a private swimming pool (Baroda), Hotel Pullman (Gurgaon), and Ceramic Mural at India Art Summit 2011—amongst many others—present a stunning, eye-catching display of ceramic art.
His solo shows at Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi, saw the beginning of Daroz’s modular concept of work. The gateways were made in terracotta, with a deliberate mixture of rice husk. Like the material, a non-permanency pervaded the installation, which at once reflected the destructive and the weathering forces of nature.
His painterly vision and innovative techniques, in the series ‘Fired Canvas, Seascapes and Warrior Forms', showcase his awesome talent in converting humble pottery into a vibrant display of ceramic art. This led ‘Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi’, to confer on him the National award for Ceramics in 2004.
“My idea of creating an environment around objects stemmed from the dissatisfaction of exhibiting them in huge gallery spaces, where their presence is humbled; the same, when displayed in congenial settings, create an ambience that celebrates them”.
His desire, after having achieved so much… ‘I would love to see my work adorning a segment of some large open space or park in Gurgaon’. As residents, that is something we can pray for, and look forward to.
Q. From what one has read about you, your father has had a great influence on your choice of sculpture as an art form. How do you look back on your early years?
We belong to a family of goldsmiths, where things of immense beauty were wrought from the rich and precious noble metal, and where there never was a grammar to explain or measure that beauty. My own sensibility was drawn towards the tensile quality of clay, and the rustic spontaneity of sheer touch. As a child I absorbed the intense artistic atmosphere of the traditional craft of goldsmithing ñ the in-house goldsmithing workshop was no less than an institution where eight to ten artisans worked round the clock. Certainly this atmosphere has influenced me to a great extent, but becoming a potter/sculptor was purely accidental ñ a sheer play of destiny.
Q. From clay Ganeshas to huge ceramic murals- how did this evolve over the years?
I got my first mural commission from the Baroda Planetarium. For a work of this scale I needed to use a larger kiln and workshop, and thus started my partnership at the small-scale semi industrial pottery units at Thangarh in Gujarat. In succeeding years a number of commission jobs had been offered to me; the enchantment of their scale enticed me take them up daringly. This liaison with the industry remained as the basis for my future experimentation. I cherished the technical challenges, and conquered the fear of monumental scale in the ceramic medium.
Q. Though sculpture goes back to the Indus Civilization, painting, as an art, has become much more popular and lucrative in India. What would you ascribe this to?
Considered as the primal art form, Terracotta is like the human skin to civilization. It contains and defines the very sap that characterises a civilization. Looking at the present scenario, the Indian artists who have gained international acclaim have been recognised particularly for their sculptures. In todayís context a good work of sculpture is very much sought after.
Q. Your work has a very individualistic streak. When you are commissioned for a project, how do you go about formulating what shape it will eventually take?
Most of the projects I have been offered are technical challenges; in terms of space I am required to fill in the blanks. Fortunately, the client does not question my credibility, and I am free to improvise. This freedom helps me to formulate a variety of preliminary images, which become the basis of my murals.
Q. Your wife, Dipalee, is also famous for her ceramic work; do her views influence your work?
Her approach is distinctly different from mine. She thinks in different ways. We help each other only to the extent of the external periphery of oneís conscience ñ not beyond that.
Q. Not many people take to sculpture these days ñ how can it be encouraged?
Sculpture is the most fascinating medium; it is to architecture what jewellery is to the body. The two are integral and complementary. However, youngsters have to condition themselves for very hard work, and perseverance to face the adversities.
Q. Having seen your work adorning some of the most prestigious buildings and locales already, what do you look forward to?
In this globalised society, art is getting a new lease of life. And with the digital technology, new avenues are opening for artistic expression.