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Raptures in Scrapture

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Scrapture artist Arzan Khambatta talks to Monarose Sheila Pereira about his unique profession, art and the career path he has chosen

What are you currently working on?
I am working on various projects - designs for various clients, physically completing three large sculptures which have to be delivered by the end of this month. I just came back after fitting two sculptures in a corporate building in Bangalore. I am working on some pen and inks which I am planning to show next year. I am experimenting with cast bronze.

How did you get your first break?
My dad’s an architect. When I used to get my first pieces home, his architect friends would see them and give me an honest feedback on my work. Slowly I felt they were getting more formed, more than just the playful ones I used to do earlier. One day dad’s closest friend, a collector of art and an architect himself, asked me if I would sell a horse head I had just made. I was elated. Never had I ever thought that I would be selling these pieces and they were worth something. That was the first sale I had ever made and the first commissioned piece came from architect Naushir Talati, which was the Moghul King outside the Jewel of India restaurant at Nehru centre, Worli.

Why did you choose your career?
I actually became a full time sculptor quite naturally. Like I said the inquiries for making site specific works were growing, and it was only natural that I follow the work I was getting more than sit at the office not doing much. So I went with the flow. Booked a gallery, and since I got the booking, I went ahead to make a collection and have my first show.

What did you like about it?
My career lets me do what I love doing best. To create, to experiment, to interact with like-minded people in the field, and most importantly it gives me a total control on my time.

How has your education helped you?
I am an architect by profession; and yes, definitely it has helped. Both of them are the art of manipulating 3d surfaces and are so similar. Architecture helps me understand drawings and scale better. It also helps me visualize what the sculpture would look like against its surroundings even before I have made it.

Describe your training days.
My training days have all been about self learning, experimenting and jumping into problems head on and trying to solve them. No one taught me art per say. But it’s about tremendous observation, a lot of passion which makes you trudge ahead fearlessly. I learnt my welding from a local grill and gate fabricator in a shanty shop, late at night after his boss had gone home.

How many years does one take to become a professional?
I would again say depends totally on the individual and his work and his relation to the viewers. But if I have to put a time line to it, I would say at least ten years.

What are the difficulties in your field?
Lots and lots. Art sells only when there’s surplus. So to sustain yourself sometimes becomes a bit hard. Plus constantly coming up with new designs that challenge you and fire up the client is not easy. And of course creating the physical pieces themselves is a challenge as everyone is different from the other, and can spring surprises on you as you are making them.

What are your plans for the future?
Can’t list all but - To keep creating. To make Bombay into a city that has maximum public art for all to see. Start an art academy or consult on the same. Get into bronze casting extensively.

What advice do you have for those who want to take up your profession?
Be fearless. Be patient. Be persistent and above all, so passionate, that you forget lunch time and keep working till the wee hours of the night.

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