Organisers of a major exhibition in Britain of over 50 sculptures of iconic Chandigarh-based artist Nek Chand expressed sadness over news of his passing away, but said the event beginning Saturday will be a celebration and a rare opportunity for Britons to experience his work.
The exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, 90 miles south of London, is open from 13 June to 25 October. Simon Martin, artistic director of the gallery who met Chand in Chandigarh in March, told Hindustan Times: “Nek Chand’s visionary Rock Garden is one of the most extraordinary outsider art environments in the world. Yet during his life Nek Chand was to transcend the label of an ‘outsider artist’ to become one of the most important and admired modern artists in India”.
'Outsider art' is a term used to describe work that is spontaneous, intuitive, original and uninfluenced by the art historical canon. It incorporates folk, vernacular and self-taught art, as well as many visionary environments.
Martin added: “His sculpture was based on intuition and the imagination, rather than formal training and has inspired millions of visitors to the Garden. Although the opening of the exhibition of over 50 of his sculptures at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester coincides with the sad news of the artist’s demise, it is a celebration of his work honouring his great achievements, and will be a rare opportunity for people in the UK to experience his work.”
Working with the Nek Chand Foundation, the exhibition in Chichester aims to capture the atmosphere of the Rock Garden within the English courtyard garden of Pallant House Gallery and reflects the ethos of the gallery’s project, 'Outside In', which supports artists facing barriers to the art world.
“It was a great honour for me to meet Nek Chand earlier this year when I visited the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, with support from the British Council India. During our conversation, Nek Chand expressed pleasure that his works would be shown at Pallant House Gallery this summer,” Martin said.