Buddha, Shiva Nataraja figures are inspiring, says top UK sculptor Richard Deacon

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 02, 2014 17:41 IST

Richard Deacon, one of Britain's top sculptors and a winner of the Turner Prize, says that the 'wholeness and balance' of the Shiva Nataraja figure as well as the many Buddha structures carved out of mountains in Sri Lanka have informed much of his work.

Describing the influences in his abstract work at Asia House on Tuesday evening, Deacon, 65, recalled being intrigued and impressed by the giant Buddha figures in Sri Lanka, where he spent some years as a child in the 1950s, when his father was posted there.

On the Shiva Nataraja figure, he said: "There is a sense of wholeness and balance that intrigues me". He mentioned ancient sculptures and caves in Ajanta and Ellora, Cambodia, and Angkor Wat as examples that contributed to his oeuvre.

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He said: "They are mountains and caves, where space is extracted from within. They are awesome engineering constructions. My experiences in Sri Lanka fired me at the fundamental level. There is a richness there that Britain in 1950s did not have".

Deacon, whose work has featured in several exhibitions and public spaces across the world, told HT that he does not work with stone, but traced his use of organic material and weaving to those early experiences in Sri Lanka and later in India.

His recent visits to India have focused on Ladakh and Leh, where he recently participated in a fund-raising project for a school. He has also interacted with architecture students in Mumbai.

In a career spanning more than four decades, Deacon has employed materials ranging from laminated wood and polycarbonate to leather, cloth and clay, combining organic forms with elements of engineering. Deacon has placed as much emphasis on language as he does on materiality, reflecting his reading of poetic, philosophical and other texts.

Art gallery Tate Britain described Deacon's work thus: "Like his infinitely varied and continually evolving work, Deacon cannot himself be pinned down to one style or subject matter. Only the principles of draughtsmanship and an emphasis on hands-on experimentation are constants throughout his career, while in that time he has also been lauded as a distinguished writer and educator".

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