For too long, ceramics in the Indian art world have been considered synonymous with pottery. Art institutions, for example, lay great emphasis on honing the students’ skill with the potter’s wheel – an accepted mark of a “good” ceramist. Considered in this context, Dipalee Daroz’s show at Art Alive represents a refreshing departure from the accepted norm.
One striking aspect of the show is the utter playfulness of the works; so much about their forms and finish is evidently left to the capricious process of firing. Turning away from the precise, calculated, and carefully co-coordinated approach of the conventional ceramist, Diplaee has sought to release the medium from the technical constraints that most artists are forced to adhere to in pursuit of predictable glazing results. Instead, the minute and unexpected ‘faults’ in the finish come together to add further dimensions to the rough-hewn stoneware works. The brief write-up in the catalogue explains the artist’s desire for his works to amalgamate the elements of nature with those of hand-made objects. We are confronted with stoneware relics bearing the impressions of a foot, molded parts of machinery, letters from the English alphabet, and other such ‘marks’ alluding to human presence.
Although the spontaneity of the medium is refreshing, the conceptual underpinnings of the exhibition feel rather weak. For instance, the series from which the show lifts its title, “Sounding Clay,” is a set of stoneware sculptures that are essentially hybridized trumpet-like forms. However, the artist’s description of the pieces indicated that they don’t represent music at all, but rather owe their reference to the “sounds” within nature. Was this supposed to come through the work alone? If so, there’s a long way to go before Daroz’s works sound out loud and clear.
(Images from top to bottom, Untitled 7, Dipalee Daroz; Relief 1, Dipalee Daroz; Sounding Clay 11. All images courtesy of Art Alive Gallery and the artist)
-- Andre B.