Monday, January 5, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
A typical day involves reading the newspaper, checking for emails, going on social networking sites and working with the Internet. There seems to be this whole amount of information explosion that seems to engulf us. We are simply not geared to process all that is flung at us and draw meaning from it all. It is an age of excess, everything is available more than needed and we are not able to separate the meaningful from the garbage.

About the Art:
What can a very simple, salaried modest man from India achieve? Arguably anything he or she aspires and a fine example of the same is artist Nek Chand Saini. Mr. Saini worked in the Public Works Department as a road inspector. He started collecting waste and debris from building sites and other places in Chandigarh, India. He found a small clearing in a public owned forest where he stated his sculptural journey. He called it the land of gods and goddesses and painstakingly made sculpture out of this waste in the most ingenious manner.

The magic held by the garden can be experience at the entrance itself. A very dominating compound wall, with delicate ceramic birds atop it is an interesting contrast that sets the mood of the garden. One knows that inside there will be unexpected surprises and unimaginable wonders.

Nek Chand calls it a garden of gods and goddesses and he has absolutely no count of just how many figures he has crafted singularly. There are so many types of figures in so many different poses made out of unimaginable materials they one can only be in awe of this amazing artist.

Broken tiles, crockery, bangles, sanitary ware, electrical waste and just about anything that is trash is transformed into magical things by the touch of this great artist. He sees potential in just any object to transform into a thing of beauty and that is the most astounding part of his work. His is an untrained artist but his sense of proportion, placement, composition and architecture is beyond superior. 

These figures above have been conceived from bicycle seats. He has covered the seats with cement and treated it with mosaic work. The great Catalan artist Antonio Gaudi was one of the masters in this technique. Yet Nek Chand had neither seen nor was influenced by him. All his art is intuitive, a product of his own intellect and creativity.

What do we do with broken bangles and pieces of crockery? We trash them without giving a single thought. It is simply marvelous how a beautiful peacock can be crafted out of broken bangles! The whole idea, concept, treatment and final product leave us completely mesmerized. Nothing is useless and worth wasting for this artist.

Today Chand has funding from the government and has skilled staff who are working on the third phase of the garden. Nek Chand's secret Garden was discovered in 1975 and was even under treat of demolition for a while due to its illegal nature and bureaucratic methods of people with no vision or value for art. Thankfully the garden was retained and opened for public viewing. The garden sprawls across twenty five acres and is connected with tunnels, pathways and is dotted with waterfalls. 
He has won many accolades for his tremendous work including the Grande Medaille de Vermeil being conferred upon him. In 1983 a postal stamp of the rock gardens was issued and he was awarded the Padmashree as well by government of India.

Please read the following article about him in the links given :Article by Anton Rajer which appeared in The Folk Art Messenger, Volume 13, Number 1, Winter/Spring 2000


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