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Artist Profile3
Dhananjay Singh’s dazzling sculptures
When seen in the light of Indian-ness, one can trace a connection both in content and form of Dhananjay Singh’s works with the country’s rich artistic tradition. Underscoring these influences, the artist emphasizes that it is imperative to get influenced by the culture and environment in which one grows. According to him, he has refrained from consciously adopting any formal elements from history and mythology; these elements unconsciously seep in his creations, he underlines.

The cycle of human life and nature act as a major source of inspiration for his work. The artist takes traditional metalworking processes to a new level of skill and finesse with his contemporary art practice. The finished work transcends the technique and carries the viewer into a mysterious meta-physical world.

Conceiving and constructing a piece of sculpture involves immense investment of time, concentration and dedication. Undergoing the rigors of making quality work, Dhananjay Singh creates sculptures guided by emotional and symbolic resonance and his innovative approach. Born and brought up in a small, ubiquitous town of North India, he hardly had a link with informed art practice. However, he gradually nurtured his interest in art, and more so in sculpting.

The artist did his B.F.A. (Sculpture) from the Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University and M.F.A. in Sculpture from the MS University, Vadodara (2002). He has served as visiting faculty at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Gandhinagar. In a short yet glittering career, the highly promising artist has won many awards, such as Harmony Excellence Award for emerging artist of the year (2005); INLAKS Fine Art Award (2005); Commonwealth Arts and Crafts Award (2005); and Gujarat State Academy Award, Ahmedabad (2004).

He has participated in Gulf Art Fair (2007); Bharat Bhavan Internatiional Biennial of Print-Art, Bhopal (2006) and a Sculpture Show at Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad (2005). Dhananjay Singh was one of 11 nominees selected for the award from the UK's Commonwealth Foundation, which provided him an opportunity to share his skills with sculptors from across the world, and develop his inherent talents.

According to him, his stint at the Sculpture Studio inspired him to experiment with near-human scale works in bronze, in addition to his established practice of using metal wire. The artist had had his first solo show at the Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University in Melbourne. He was Sculptor in Residence there, working in the Faculty of Art and Design sculpture studio. The residency opened avenues to experiment with different mediums. This provided a new direction to his work and helped him to develop new ways of thinking.

When faced with the questions about life and its origin, Dhananjay Singh started examining nature, with tree as a motif to decipher this formative process. “I have always been fascinated by the way the essence of organic forms is represented in traditional sculptures, especially in human form.” he quips.

“I am keenly interested in the process of the transformation of form that takes place gradually and continuously. One form gives way to another. It’s an evolution from invisible to visible or vice-versa. It’s an endless cycle, with no starting or end point, which gets manifested in frozen moments in my varied sculptural forms.”

He opts for metal wires as a unit-like cell. The marks of welding and its yellow-color brass are evident and only enhance a look of organic growth. The core idea is to celebrate nature through this distinctive play of flora and fauna and other organic forms that evoke human sensibilities, arousing an array of emotions.

The most striking aspect of the figuration of trees in his three-dimensional work is the harmony of material and technique, form and content. Highlighting this aspect of his work, art critic Sushma Bahl mentions in an essay: “As a naturalist his perception of life centers around environment and its dynamism that assimilates flora and fauna within ancient Indian philosophy that sees nature inextricably intertwined with life and religion. His form and figuration are testimony to his technical skills and craftsmanship derived from his interest and internalization of the techniques used in making ritual and decorative images that are cast in metal. Given his understanding of the intrinsic and inherent value of metal, he is able manipulate materials to shape his forms.”

Dhananjay Singh’s creations transcend inner and outer sphere of mind as well as the physical space around. They revolve around life-giving values in the bountiful play of nature and analyze the pattern of organic growth.