As she watched the vivaciousness of the circus, jokers and the jugglers, wide-eyed and in awe, artist Kiran Dixit Thapar couldn’t help but jump from her seat and break into happy applause. And when the drumroll for the trapeze acts began, she would run-up to the stage and see herself in those fliers dangling off thin rods in their dazzling skirts, and tops, performing gravity-defying aerial antics.
Thapar wanted to join the circus, not knowing her life itself would resemble one. Personal events turned her world upside down but after a short span of self-pity, she rocketed with resilience through art. She let us on her thoughts during her just-concluded show titled Circus Girls at Les Femmes Fatales, Women with Gumption at the Visual Art Gallery.
Life, she says, is a circus. It comes with happiness, blessings, unpredictability, risk, even danger.
“The circus teaches us to not take life so seriously. Back in the day, people were more relaxed. They didn’t take offence easily. This is what my piece Circus Girls reminisced through its depiction. The happy spirit of these women on mono wheels spreading joy and smiles,” says Thapar.
The body of made in bronze, fibreglass and mild steel mirrored what every day presents and all that we overlook. The khajur gach (date trees), for instance, portrays our ignored tree heritage. It’s a simple rendition that brings out the beauty of the trees.
Among these was a striking design of three women from different states: the tribal Santhal lady from Bengal, one from Northeast with a baby, and the third one from Punjab.
“Women should be accorded equality where ever they come from. If the sisterhood were to come together, miracles would happen,” Thapar said.
Then you had the mundane imitation of a goat titled The Billy Goat, which showed “the beauty of his form. How many have ever stopped to see this animal carefully? This piece will prod you to do so next time.”
One of the most impressive displays was the Reclining Nude. It implored one to look at the female form with discernment and not judgement.
“I am the greatest admirer of a women’s curves its contours. Despite being heterosexual all my life, when I see her, floodgates of inspiration open. On the contrary, I find the male form rather aggressive navel downwards so I have never explored that much,” she says.
With 20 years behind her, Thapar’s energy is admirable. She’s only touched the tip of the ice burg, she feels, and in the coming years, there is a lot more that she needs to work on, one among that is a body of terracotta and metal works inspired from Chinese warriors. Thapar’s got a lot on her plate but she has the appetite to savour it all.