CHENNAI: A series of glass sculptures called Old Seeds displayed at Forum Art Gallery marks Sisir Sahana’s third solo show in the city. Through ‘A Dialogue with Soil’, the West Bengal-based artist makes every visitor read between the crystalline and the non-crystalline layers of the soil only to discover the power of nature, which is frozen in time. In his interview with CE, the 56-year-old professor of Ceramics and Glass, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, shares his experiences of becoming a creator of a sort by reviving the past through a rare medium of glass.
When did glass take a creative detour from Europe?
Egyptians and Greeks are experts in making glass-based items. In Harappan civilization, glass was used to make jewellery and beads. Later, it was brought to India as stained glass by the French and the British people. Although glass blowing is popularly practised in Uttar Pradesh today, the art of making glass sculptures has not gained momentum in the country, mainly due to lack of awareness and poor infrastructure.
What makes glass art unique?
Usually, sculptures are made with clay, wood, stone and bronze. When it comes to glass, people see it as an item used for decoration. For me, it is a tool of expression that is very challenging to work with. Sometimes, I use this medium to voice social concerns. The amount of effort, time and money that goes into each glass sculpture is enormous. Most of my sculptures, made in Pittsburgh Glass Centre, USA, took nearly three weeks for completion.
Explain the techniques of art.
The intricate yet harmonious positioning of fossilised roots, bright-coloured oleanders and discarded glass items in these sculptures is achieved through a series of steps. The process of transferring a thought into glass is layered like the art itself. We start by developing a concept and incorporating necessary elements in it. Then, components like silica, soda, potash, nitrate and borax are melted to form a glass in the mould using techniques like casting, slumping fusing and blowing. This is followed by cooling, which is the most important step in the process, and painting using oxide colours.
How do you see the bubbles in your work?
An artist’s approach towards an impediment while working with a tough medium like glass matters a lot. For something as tiny as a bubble could change the very dimension of the output. I learned to embrace the beauty of bubbles that form during the casting process. They create space, add layers to the glass and make it more lively.
How do you see your art?
My sculptures are reflections of my thoughts. I create them for my satisfaction. Humans are habituated to neglect the past. But, the past will never die when it’s seen as a symbolic representation of a tradition’s growth in an art form.
An artist’s approach towards an impediment while working with a tough medium like glass matters a lot. For something as tiny as a bubble could change the very dimension of the output.