The use of a whopping 638-carat Zambian emerald was the only design brief given to Arzan Khambatta when he was approached to create the headlining piece for the Emeralds For Elephants initiative.
“They just showed me the size of the gem and said that it must be incorporated in my piece. From the start, I knew I wanted to make a Ganpati. I think it’s the most beautiful form to depict an elephant in, and it has a strong Indian connect. You don’t have to be religious to love it. And with the emerald in hand, it looks even better,” says Khambatta. And though the auction comes days after Ganesh Chaturthi, the sculptor insists it’s only a happy coincidence. “I was approached five-six months back. They’d done something similar in London last year and I loved the concept,” he says of the project taken up by Gemfields, an ethical Zambian emerald mining company, to create awareness and raise funds for the protection of critically endangered Asian elephants.
About the auction, Khambatta remains clueless. He’s not even aware of his creation’s reserve price of R 50 lakh. “I’m totally out of the sale scene. My job is done and the logistics are out of my hand. Even during my own shows, I leave everything to my wife Khushnuma, and the gallery that is organising it,” he claims. “However, from what I understand, they will price it well, taking the gem, size and medium into account.”
After creating the piece, the sculptor has gone back into hibernation. He’s happy making commissioned pieces: “After the Micropolis show in February, I’ve been travelling. My mind works better with a time limit. So maybe I’ll get going if a gallery approaches me to display my work.”