CHENNAI: After over 20 years of sculpting, R Srinivasan made everything except money, his friends say — everything that mattered to him.
A national award-winning sculptor, ‘Sirpi’ Srinivasan, as his friends call him, died of heart and kidney ailments and is survived by his wife and two sons. He had served as general council member of the Lalit Kala Akademi.
“He liked to work with metal casting, sheet metal and bronze. He also took to painting,” said Sivaraj K, a professor in the Government College of Fine Arts, where Srinivasan studied.
Srinivasan is best known for his work ‘Royal Faces’, a line of sculptures that featured faces, not of royalty, but of everyday people — some with twirled moustache, some with sad eyes, some with tranquil smiles. For the first few sculptures under the series, he liked to leave the protrusions that resulted from the wax mouldings, in the final piece. However, that changed in due course, though his characteristic touches in the faces remained.
“He was loved among young artists. He tried in every way he could to promote young, deserving South Indian artists in the national forum. He was their voice,” said Ramesh Yanthra, who knew Srinivasan for 25 years and considers him his mentor.
Though he had come a long way since the time he was fascinated by stone sculptures in his hometown in Tiruvannamalai as a young boy, his friends said that at the end of it all, money was one thing he did not make.
“It was not that he was looking to make money either. He was beyond materialistic ambitions,” said Ramesh.
He was also one of the ‘few’ sculptors who took up conservation seriously, working to restore a number of major sculptures, according to Bessie Melito, a textile conservator who knew Srinivasan.
For N K Baskar, an artist himself, the fact that so many around him failed to recognise his genius pained him as much as his death.
However in the end, it was the little things about the man that lingered.
“Once our flight got delayed and it was 2 am. But he insisted on dropping me home even in the dead of the night,” Bessie recalled.