‘Public art holds cities together,’ Delhi artist shares thoughts

Delhi-based artist Neeraj Gupta is all set to represent India at the upcoming Beijing International Art Biennale.

Published: 14th August 2019 07:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2019 07:53 AM   |  A+A-

Art aficionados at the ongoing art exhibition featuring works of 15 artists

Image of an art exhibition used for representational purposes.

Express News Service

A wooden sculpture, titled From Here to Eternity by Neeraj Gupta, President of the Delhi Art Society, has been nominated for the upcoming 8th Beijing International Art Biennale on view at Beijing, China from August 26 to September 23. Gupta is a public art specialist. His artistic inclinations range from folk traditions in Indian art to global environmental concerns.

 Here to Eternity

Tell us about the nominated work.
The sculpture depicts the biennale’s theme which is, A Colourful World and a Shared Future. I have attempted to depict a tribal family.

I believe that India cannot be understood without its tribal culture, which is intertwined with rich religious beliefs, customs and folkways.

The figures are charged with strong and sharp features. I have sought to draw the attention of the metropolitan public to an ignored but yet immense life-restoring reality. 

As a sculptor, what are the primary themes you like to explore?
I constantly endeavour to break rules and find unorthodox ways of approaching contemporary issues.

I often say one of the greatest challenges of today is that we are not in touch with global issues like climate change and the negative impact of technology.

Working as an artist has brought me in contact with a wealth of outlooks and truly different perceptions about the world. I strive to bring all of this into my work.

What made you pursue art?
I believe that art has the power to change the world and I could express myself this way through my artworks. Art can make a difference.

It does not show people what to do; yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses.

This feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action. I believe that one of my major responsibilities as an artist is to help people not only get to know and understand something with their minds but also to feel it emotionally.

As a specialist in public art, tell us how this genre of art impacts people.
Public artworks are actually the magnets that hold cities together. There’s an old proverb, ‘Where there is no vision the people perish’. In moments of the crises that beset great cities, it is these elements that come out openly in public spaces whether out of sheer outrage or overt/intense joy or lamentation.

Given this, how important then it is that the city be rich with those signs and symbols that rise above the many forms of divisions present in society.

A good city is a secular space. The secular space could be brilliant with boundless energy. Such expressions through public art give moments of liberation and release us however temporarily, from the burdens of a too intellectually armoured, defensive selfhood.

Through our many local or regional or individual voices, we artists work to create art that will speak to our fellows, who know nothing of us. And despite our apparent foreignness to one another an unexpected intimacy is born. Hence, the formation of universal cities.

Delhi Art Society was formed to with a view to expand the city’s landscape through public art. What are the recent endeavours by the organisation?
Delhi Art Society has formulated a draft Master Plan for public art in Delhi and is constantly pursuing the cause with missionary zeal because arts and culture represent one of the few areas in our society where people can come together to share an experience even if they see the world in radically different ways. 

We regularly have exhibitions, intellectual discourses to contribute to Delhi’s unique and vibrant community identity. We do this by affirming a sense of place and celebrating the social, historical cultural and natural environment. Through the creative vision of artists, public places will become focal points for dialogue and delight, attracting visitors and residents alike. 

In my view, these public artworks create a sense of civic pride. 


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