It is easy to gaze at the beauty of the city’s architecture and marvel at its intricacy from ground level. But from a view that is high above, it all seems the same. This is the thought behind Arzan Khambatta’s latest work.
Says the sculptor, “When I log on to Google maps and look at the cityscape from a height, the roads and buildings appear to be part of a cellular structure that you would see under a microscope. They seem so complex, but are actually created using the simplest formulae.”
Titled Micropolis, the exhibit of 22 works derives its name from ‘micro’, which refers to the cellular level, and ‘polis’ indicating the city.
Ask him if it is the architecture of Mumbai that inspired him, and Khambatta is quick to add, “It’s not as much about the architecture as it is about the people of this city.” Sure enough, he has done justice by creating figures that are lithe, active and dynamic, and positioned outside the steel structures to avoid giving precedence to their environment.
Evidently, this is his most difficult work to date, and took the most amount of time to complete. Khambatta attributes that to the use of stainless steel and multiple high-skill techniques that had to be executed to perfection.
“For the first time, I’ve had to step outside my studio to get some of the processes done. I couldn’t do the chromium plating and laser cutting by myself. That is the work of professionals,” he reasons.
Micropolis is a notable departure from his earlier work that has included the use of scrap material, which he first introduced in 1999 in his famed Scraptures series. It also played a pivotal role in his 2008 exhibit, Comfortably Numb. Khambatta’s unusual choice of material had then sparked off a trend that many followed in the coming years.
Does he feel that this style too will be aped? “I’m fine with other sculptors catching on to this trend. As for me, I’m already looking to move on to further experiment. I don’t know if some of the techniques I have in mind can be executed, but I’ll certainly try my best,” he grins.