I have never been too keen on metal art, somehow like in Chinese medicine, metal represents grief, limits and boundaries, and this is often what has been transpiring from most metal compositions I have seen, but the spiritual content and intent of Saravana just made it otherwise.
The theme of this sculpting exhibition is seed, and for Saravana seed is God.
No wonder one feels transported to another state of mind as one’s eye wanders from one piece to another, most of them representing a seed becoming a tree.
As a matter of fact the first composition was so refined, with each leaf shaped with such detail and refinement that it looked more like a Japanese Bonsai tree. And this is what Saravana gives to his trees: the respect that allows the tree to express its individuality freely, without forcing it to fit any particular category, and to help it achieve its most beautiful, balanced form. But what makes Saravana’s trees
so stunningly different is not that they look as beautiful as in nature, it is that they are represented with their seeds.
I felt immediately that something important wanted to be expressed, especially noticing that the exhibition was shaped in a circle form. Why seeds and why sprouting?
Seed is God said Saravana, and everybody has to see the seed as a tree.
First I wonder about the artist and his affinities with metal. Where did this come from? Family? Work? Karmic reasons?
Saravana, 32 years old now, is what we call a self-taught artist. He was working since very young as a welder in a car shop and this is where he developed his intimacy with metal and all the technicalities involved with it.
But he always knew that he had an artist soul, so every Sunday evening after work he went to a drawing school. There he learnt sketching, and when his master asked for his help because of his welding skills, he realised that he wanted to start metal sculpting.
His first piece “Father and Child” took one week, and that was 2008. As a matter of fact the second piece “Cocks Fight” took him six years but was finished in 2009. They were all touching in the sinuosity of their lines which is not a given in iron work, but one of the most impressive was a peacock made from a Royal Enfield Bullet tank.
The last piece of the exhibit is a jackfruit. Each thorn is represented in a detailed, enduring way, and if one does not know the content of a jackfruit, one could only wonder what the secret of this thorny fruit is.
What came first in my mind was the “Sabra”, a symbolic fruit of Israel, a tenacious, thorny desert plant, known in English as prickly pear, with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior. The cactus is compared to Israeli Jews, who are coarse and rough on the outside and sweet inside.
I was not too far off with the symbolism of the Jackfruit for Saravana.
He explained to me that there were 3 different kinds of sweet taste in Tamil Nadu: the honey taste, the mango taste and the jackfruit taste, but the jackfruit has the three tastes together combined and that gives the fruit the divine sweetness of an elixir.
If you did not get to see the exhibition in Kala Kendra, I hope you will get to follow Saravana on his path as he could definitely end up being the contemporary “Iron Man” of Tamil Nadu!
D. Saravana, No 64, Mariamman Kovil Street, Gopalan Kadai, Pondicherry 605110.
This article was written by Chana Corinne Devor. She is an art critic and writes for international travel and spiritual magazines.