Padmashree Carmel Berkson is holding an exhibition of sculpture at the Jehangir Art Gallery. The artist came to India from the United States 40 years ago and she was so taken by the exciting traditional sculpture of the country, she stayed on. She has produced six books on Indian art which have been published by Oxford University Press, Abhinav Publications and Princeton University Press.
She is unhappy young artists of India are turning away from the rich art tradtions and seeking foreign inspiration. “Once I was exposed to be Indian monuments, there could be no turning back. About our past sculpture, the artist says: “there stone outpourings can only have been accomplished in a hierarchical society where thousands of workers, royal and trader partners and especially, dedicated sculptors, architects, scholars and priests coordinated efforts towards the common goal of creating meaningful and syncretic religious experiences in the context of commercial works of beauty and grandeur…. I had not anticipated the amount of tense, compressed, energetic interactivity of the multiple, diverse, harmonious and dissonant forms, nor the enormity of the scale and complexity of intereacting form life on so many medieval temple walls, and at Ajanta, Elephanta, Ellora and Mahabalipuram.
About the basic shapes of her sculpture which are relevant to her own work in the past, she says the configurations and mythological references are modeled upon those of the ancient Indian sculptors. “As I had realized that in cave 15 at Ellora, the double figures were indeed great contributions to the history of world art, the relationship of one another of two mobile figures became very important to me. Consequently most of my statues are devoted to the aesthetic problems posed by these relationships.”