Gagji Monpara - Modern Indian Sculptor

About Artworks

About Artworks

In Search of Life by Deepak Kannal

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Gagji’s idiom though appears to be obscure, has an intrinsic lucidity. The libidinal charge and the rustic vitality appeals to the spectators, initiated as well as uninitiated.

- Deepak Kannal

Gagji’s Glass Sculptures by Sandhya Bordewekar

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If there is one thing that Gagji Monpara is extremely confident about, it is glass’ "frozen beauty, fragile strength". He has experienced it first hand, the joy preceded by exasperation, the excitement tempered with grief. Gagji studied sculpture at Baroda, finishing in 1994. His medium of choice were and continue to be wood and stone, often embellished with a little touch of metal. But now, his current solo show displays, for the first time, really simple yet intriguing sculptures made with glass bottles, sometimes paired with wood.

How did Gagji get involved with glass, that too using already available glass bottles and ‘re-forming’ them to blend into his sculptural ideas? For a number of years, Gagji has been the Art & Craft teacher at the Reliance school in Jamnagar where he specializes in clay-work. In an effort to make clay-work more interesting and to introduce innovation of some kind in the teaching process, he thought of combining clay with glass. Objects captured in glass bottles are always a source of much curiosity to children and adults alike; Gagji would get his students to make interesting little objects from clay, fire them and then insert them in empty jam and pickle bottles that the students would get from their homes. He would then put the bottles in the kiln and adjust, with much experimentation, the temperatures to get the glass bottles to collapse and form interesting shapes. The results were often quixotic, sometimes laughable but usually very interesting. That’s when Gagji started to seriously think about glass bottles, often nothing more that disposable waste, as a possible sculptural medium.

As Gagji’s confidence to work with existing glass bottles began to grow, he started to source different kinds of glass bottles with varied qualities, thicknesses and shapes of bottles, coloured, plain and patterned glass. With every success, it became clear to the artist that he had stumbled upon a material and medium through which his sculptural work could have a unique channel of expression. Though he does not work with molten glass to create forms as yet, it is quite likely that he is well on the road to do so in the future. However, for the time being, glass bottles will do.

Gagji’s sculptures in his first solo show are indeed very intriguing. They are executed with painstaking skill and craftsmanship and bear the marks that his regular sculptures have always carried – a wonderful lucidity of form that works in tandem with the basic quality and temperament of the material used. While in some works, the glass retains the identity of its original bottle form, in quite a few ones, the artist manages to skillfully disguise it; only the signature ‘neck’ of the bottle sometimes gives away the fact of its earlier avatar!

The collapsed bottles, at one point, are almost Salvador Dali-esque in their presentation, as they hang limply across sharply erect and solid wooden squares and beams. Sometimes, they drape themselves across each other as they bend over, craning their necks, human-like. What is wonderful is the way in which the artist manages to initiate a strong relationship, rather a dialogue, between the fragile translucency of the glass that holds on to the firm solidity of wood or metal. At times, this dialogue is made more complex, when Gagji juxtaposes two glass forms and ignites a three-way conversation.

Even though in this exhibition Gagji has moved away from his usual materials, one must emphasize that some of his concerns as an artist which have been apparent in his earlier works continue to be seen in these sculptures too. There has always been a strong element of a rustic kind of vitality that was always present as a symbolic undertone in Gagji’s sculptures. It has expressed itself as fecund natural forms such as sprouting seeds/eggs, erotic-looking fruits and flowers. His bulbous glass forms here find an easy identification with similar representation, especially the work in which a number of such forms with the bottle necks acting as ‘stems’ are anchored in wooden bases.

Gagji’s sculptures have been recognized for their rhythmic and lyrical quality that he achieves through the way he expertly balances the different elements of the sculpture, juxtaposing the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ aspects in such clever alignment that the final presentation of each sculpture is always a visual delight. This show takes Gagji’s proficiency as an artist many steps further and ahead.

- Sandhya Bordewekar

The World of Gagji Monpara by Nitesh Patel

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Gagji Monpara is a promising young sculptor, who pursued his post diploma from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, The recent works of Gagji Monpara perpetually rediscovers the meaning of multifaceted relationships in his sculpture, using various daily usage objects as a form with marked absence of human figure. Each sculpture is characterized by demarcated areas creating palpable volume, rhythm and balance that show his potential of playing with from and medium whether wood or brass. The rhythm of each sculpture, carefully and minutely composed without losing the spontaneity and expression provides greater flexibility and lyricality to his work enhanced by the fine execution of the modest sized sculpture.

The body of work he has produced divulges multiple layers of thought process which suggest symbolic meaning of fertility. Gagji has been making sincere attempt to play with various object transmitting in to sculptural language. Thought the choice of subject matter in his work like egg cut vertically and horizontally, match sticks, in search of life, unhached life and sprouts like show strong undercurrent of optimism. The artist's own self gets manifest through the objects e builds in rough tactile surfaces. I think the conceptual simplicity and the sincerity of execution is the strength of Gagji's idiom. The appreciation that it earned, perhaps is due to the same.

- Nitesh Patel