Went to Mananchira square to see ’Time Tides’, the 25-foot tall sculptor installed by noted sculptor K.S.Radhakrishnan as part of the ‘Shilpa Nagaram’ project. The centre of attraction in the composition is’ Musui’, sculptor K.S.Radhakrishnan’s favourite muse. It was my first time inside Mananchira and I must admit that it is a very interesting urban space, a literal green lung of the city. Went straight to the statue placed in the middle of the green open lawn. There were a few people loitering around the installation, more curious and puzzled than appreciative. 2 huge granite rectangular blocks of stones kept vertically act as a reference for Musui to acrobatically suspend himself in air. Four additional massive boulders are strewn around thse 2 vertical elements. It is almost a very random composition. The blocks were placed in position recently and the fresh remains of earth are visible on the surfaces of the granite.
There is an apparent weightlessness about Musui, a joy in being unhindered, free, yet delicately poised. This lightlessness is contrasted heavily with the massive granite boulders and their earthiness. The boulders are scarred with straight deep cuts made during their excavation. Another contrast, a comparison of Musui’s total freedom unaffected by the trials and troubles of mundane life, refusing to bow down and be tied, remaining free as the air.
One apparent anamoly is that the sculpture and Musui takes hold of you only when you are really close to it, almost right beneath it. Here, the scale becomes massive and Musui’s delicate balancing act and apparent weightlessness even more pronounced and surreal. When one is far away, the black form of Musui is almost unfathomable among the dark green foliage behind. Maybe it will be different when the sun is out and it is not cloudy like when I visited it.
I was standing back and observing how ordinary people reacted to such public art and installations. For most people, it was something curious, something maybe even puzzling, something which they try to find meaning and most often being too lazy to use their grey cells they wander off ignoring it. Some people try hard to analyse it and find meaning, seeing it from different angles, searching and interpreting. Here the installation serves its real purpose, making people think and contemplate. However, for most people, it is just a backdrop, something that merely exists.
This is where the real importance of urban public art lies. It is right around us, in common places and in our day to day life. One doesn’t need to go into an art gallery to experience it. Such art should make one think, make one find and appreciate beauty, to contemplate and overall enrich our lives. Sadly, we have been neglecting public art in our urban spaces to the point that new art is almost non-existent. There is no effort to realise its immense potential and to revive it in out urbanscapes. It is why such initiatives like the Shilpa Nagaram project are extremely commendable and relevant. 12 sculptures made by noted sculptors from across the country will be installed at key locations in Calicut city as part of this project, and hopefully will lead to an increased focus and appreciation of arts.