India`s glass diva sparkles again

Hemi Bawa, who was honoured with a Padma Shri this year, is back with a new solo show "Glass Dimension".

New Delhi: Veteran glass artist Hemi Bawa, who was honoured with a Padma Shri this year, is back with a new solo show "Glass Dimension", which promises to be a visual feast of art in glass.

One of the few artists in the country who has been working with glass for the last two decades, Bawa`s show opens at the Polka Art Gallery in the capital Aug 9.

"My medium is primarily glass though I combine it with metal, wood, pigments and cast iron. It`s a wonderful medium, though tough to handle," Bawa said at a preview.

The "Glass Dimension", which has a play of both artificial and natural light through transparent surfaces and complex textures of fired pigments, comments on social and natural realities.

"It is essentially my thought process and how I relate to the environment I live in," said Bawa, who spent nearly three years putting the show together.

Most of the works are in series. A four-part bust profile of Indian soldiers made of fibre glass painted black stands out for the play of light on the glass surfaces and the expression of pride, patriotism, suffering and courage on the faces.

The set of four busts is priced at Rs 150,000.

Two more series -- "In My Space" that is in two parts and "Man in his Space", in three parts -- painted on copper bases fired with glass and pigments are vivid in their colour palette on the glass surface.

The works are priced at Rs 80,000 each.

"Tsunami", a wooden Kerala boat carrying a crew of distorted glass human heads -- lit from inside -- is an eerie portrait of the devastation wreaked by the sea in 2004.

"Guns and Oil", a metal and glass installation of a scooter full of terrorist guns, is a statement on violence.

"I wanted to make it to show the world," Bawa said.

Most of the works are in ordinary sheet glass, though Bawa has imported some expensive glass from Germany.

The price band is steep for the average middle-class Indian collector -- from Rs 80,000 to Rs 600,000.

"But the idea is not just to sell. The best things in the world must be shown," said Manu Dosaj of Gallery Alternatives, where the show will move after its stint at the Polka Art Gallery.

The fact that Bawa has been devoted to glass for so many years is commendable, said Arti Singh of the Polka Art Gallery.

"It is a difficult medium. You need to fire it for a long time. But it allows light and has many layers and depth," Singh said.

Bawa`s career in art covers nearly five decades. She began as a professional artist in 1962.

IANS

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