Buyers still reject my recycled sculptures made from scrap – Narayan Sinha

by Ekatmata Sharma
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‘4 min read’

Narayan Sinha’s sculptural artwork caught the eye of many at India Art Fair 2022. He created a sculpture ‘Engulf’ made out of scrap silencer pipes in his sculpture symbolizing the challenges during the pandemic. Right after India Art Fair, Sinha brought together 35 sculptures at his solo show ‘Imbue’ at India Habitat Center presented by Art Ichol, an artist community in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh by Ambica Beri.  

Sinha’s works speak volumes about sustainability and fluidity as he creates implausible art out of scrap hard metals. The materials he uses in the ongoing exhibition to create installations and sculptures include iron, brass, copper, ceramic and sandstone.

Sinha is among very few sculptors who have been working in up-cycle and recycle medium to create art. Sinha puts forth, “I have been creating these since 25 years. I was working on recycled and up-cycled mediums much before people started talking about it.”

Sinha’s ‘Imbue’ melts, merges and ultimately flows beyond form. The series of works that took him one and half year to create has a sensibility of deep formlessness and fluidity. He uses stone as sweeping as water and brass as pliable as clay creating forms that seem impossible in the material that they are in. However for the artist all materials are his friends. “I don’t feel anything difficult and if at all it’s hard that means I have not connected with that material. As a sculptor, I connect with materials, they become friends and then we work. Nothing is tough for me,” said Sinha adding he has “explored each and every medium – ceramics, bronze, silver, fiber glass, cast iron, stone, rubber, heavy iron, steel, utensils, wood carving,  water colour, acrylic, photographs etc.”

He added, “I am sculptor, I can work with any material. I use a certain material to put soul in that object. You can provide me anything sustainable and I can make art out of it.”

Sinha feels that junk artworks are still naïve in Indian art market. “I feel there is a sense of hypocrisy in market. People appreciate very intellectual work. When they start buying for their house they are very specific in a certain way. The new generation is avant-garde. They are appreciating every sort of art.”

His sculptures overlap, intertwine and unfold in multifaceted layers and dichotomies revealing his angst and passions culminating in the ultimate exultation of spirit

Talking about his inclination towards hard metal, Sinha shared he was surrounded by automobile parts right from his childhood. “I am small town boy. My father owns an automobile business – the grease, the lubricant, oil, it was dark and manly world. It was very disturbing for me, because as a creative person, I felt that there is a sense of sensitivity in being alive.”
He expressed, “Throughout the day everyone was cutting metal, there was so much of noise. My childhood was not blessed with sort of beauty, softness and aesthetics.”

Gradually it all started making sense to Sinha. “Initially these things were irritating me, but when I understood that this is where I live. Slowly, the whole ambience became my friend. The automobile parts kept talking to me. It was a very surreal conversation,” he told.

Sinha began with painting in watercolours. He shared, “My world is very soft, there are birds, leaves, and my dad’s work is all very masculine. I wanted to mingle up with my dad’s world. I want to be part of his manly world.”

It wasn’t a cakewalk for Sinha working with up-cycled materials. “In 2001, I started selling my work, but in India the Vastu came up and all sort buyers from Marwaris to Gujarati’s abandoned my whole body of work. They rejected me by saying I am using scrap and recycled materials.”

These rejections dint deter him, he continued his journey as a sustainable artist. “I realized that it’s my journey and I appreciate it that’s my father’s world that somewhere connected with me and I am not letting it go. I took an oath that I will up-cycle my work, where people are not putting any value or not giving a second look I will make them precious and expensive. So, they will be bound to keep my sculptures in their homes.”

In two decades, Sinha has come a long way and is now a celebrated sculptor. “It’s a long battle and somewhere humbly I own it. Now, people are paying and buying my works and keeping them in their homes and mansions.”

As a sustainable artist, Sinha believes, “It’s a huge change that I am bringing into the world with up-cycling and recycling. I believe in this system. It’s like a prayer to me. In a larger way I am contributing to the environment.  I always talk about mother nature and going back to nature.” Sinha admires works of renowned artist Anish Kapoor and Daniel Ashram.

To a time when Sinha had 100 rupees in his pocket to buy junk from automobile factories to creating larger than life sculptures, he is on his journey to accomplish his dream. “I started at a very small scale when I created sculptures of 1 ft. Later the sizes became big. I want to work on 1000 ft sculptures in architectural form,” concluded Sinha.

‘Imbue’ exhibition continues till June 30th, 2022 at India Habitat Centre.

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