Bangalore-based artist Kalyan Rathore is the creator of a Guinness World-record winning photo sculpture, comprising 22.000 photos held together only by photo paper and glue.
Wether the letter “A” in Dhoom-2 was spectacular in being the mark of the thief or not, Kalyan Rathore’s photo-sculpture which depicts the same alphabet is much more awe-inspiring. And not only because it won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest photo sculpture (the record belongs to the multi-national which commissioned the sculpture though Kalyan still holds a certificate for his role as its creator).
The piece basically constituted 22,000 photographs of the MNC employees held together only by paper and glue, as per the Guinness stipulations. “A foreign object cannot be used to give the object structural strength and it has to stand freely, without support from a wall or ceiling. And so 1 came up with this concept where each photograph is punched out and folded to form a triangle. Each triangle then becomes one-sixth of a hexagon and each hexagon tessellates next to one another. These can then form panels which can be put together,” explains Kalyan, a designer-turned art- ist (designing industrial products).”What’s important is that the hexagon is strong by nature, hexagons don t have a straight line joint which adds strength to the panel. That is the mechanism behind the structure. And each portrait is still visible in the triangle. These panels are then Icut into shapes and mounted into box like struc- tures to create the final shape.”Another Guinness requirement was that the final structure be pre-planned and engineered. And so Kalyan decided to work on an alphabet from the company’s logo.
Going with the flow
The sculpture is quite in keeping with Kalyan’s fondness for themes inspired by nature. This time is the hexagonal structure that nature follows in structures like honeycombs.
“Straight planes crack like chocolate bars, hexagonal joints are strong. What nature throws at you is honest. it is not trying to be something else. When you try to emulate nature, you imbibe the qualities of nature and I think that’s the best place for an artist, just to be, without wanting to do anything or gain anything. Though you naturally want fame and money. you are happiest when you are just being yourself,” he explains. “I also tend to gravitate towards nature and science because physics is one of my favourite subjects. I like creating things out of mathematical or physical forms.”
Rathore’s earlier sculptures lend themselves quite easily to his inspiration. In his 2008 series of five, five-foot large ants, placed surreptitiously on a tree at the entrance of a city restaurant or his metal beetles placed to enliven an old cable drum that was blotting the landscape in front of a Prestige building in Ulsoor. His creative process too is quite in keeping with his work, laborious and intuitive. “I stress on the idea for a while and then I back out and some part of me, it seems, works on it subconsciously and comes up with the solutions, especially when I’m not thinking about it. The answers come to you when you are not thinking about it provided you have let the issue trouble you for a while,” he says.
Though Kalyan loves working with steel, he also paints. He has exhibited his works, mainly profiles and abstracts largely in Bangalore, Delhi and Singapore. He also worked on a short film on animal cruelty.
“Again, when I paint, I don’t really have a plan. I just go with the flow. It’s called action painting, and its mostly dictated by the movements I’m doing on canvas. After a stage I slow down and tone it up. I feel that everythingl do should have a rhythm and I work on my paintings in the same rhythm with which I work on my sculptures. Basically, I like working with materials, whether its paint, canvas or wood. That’s how I connect my sculptures and paintings. I just like to be there, as unpretentious as possible,” says Rathore, who loves working with art in public spaces and eventually hopes to make large-scale public installations.
“I also want to trigger a new wave of thought among children who think art is just a one-hour class very week. I hope to see parents who want their kids to appreciate and explore the arts because art makes you a rounded person and can open up various aspects of the human mind.”
Kalyan talks of public art in Singapore, where itis mandatory for buildings in certain stipulated areas to have public art. “So the cityscape automatically becomes beautiful. You can’t walk 100 metres in Singapore without seeing four different artists from around the world. But the trend of public art is catching up in Bangalore. If malls would put up sculptures instead of name boards or logos then people will automatically remember them better.”
Corparates could actually come together to put up artwork to semi-public areas where people could come and see and touch the artworks, he suggests. “This is one of the directions that public art can take in India, where corporates and institutions could wake up to art more practically and evolves a way of expressing themselves.”