Sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri leads Kochi Biennale’s ‘Master Practice Studios’

>>A half-finished sculpture of a soaring eagle catches the eye as you step into the historic Pepper House at Fort Kochi


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A half-finished sculpture of a soaring eagle catches the eye as you step into the historic Pepper House at Fort Kochi, while a young woman sits in the midst of scattered leaves, twigs and branches concentrated on shaping them into this impressive work of art.

 The eagle is the creation of Manisha Chandel, one among five young artists who have come to Fort Kochi to gather new perspectives on art from renowned Indian sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri at the latest Master Practice Studios hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation.

 Kolleri says his effort is directed towards building on the foundation that these young people have received in art from their schools and help them take off on their own.

 “What an art student learns in college is like what you learn from your nursery classes. It’s just the base; there’s much more to it. The practical sessions here are mostly to enhance their ability to think from different perspectives,” he says.

 The five students at the Master Practice Studios have come from different parts of the country and will remain under Kolleri’s tutelage for the next one month.

 After a strictly conventional education there’s always a chance that the young artist gets easily bored, he observes. “To get rid of this monotony, they shift to various mediums and sometimes it helps them to develop unique creations of their own,” he says. “In a way, it also becomes ‘Atma Vidya'(knowledge of the soul) as it is self -learned and self-earned.”

 But he believes that for an artist it is not the medium that matters the most, but the expression. “That’s of primary significance. Every artist will have their own styles and mediums. Some may choose metal or wood, others might use clay or cloth. But it’s the output that matters.”

 To be able to enjoy other’s creativity, one should come up with his/her own unique style and creations which have depth, Kolleri adds.

 His message has resonated with the artists who say the session has helped them look at things from a fresh new perspective.

  Manisha, who goes to the nearby beach every morning to collect the leaves for her tree-trunk eagle, says Kolleri’s guidance has been eye-opening in many ways.

 “Earlier, I used to create many things without even realizing their significance. But under his tutelage, I have a better understanding of my own works,” says the Ghaziabad-based artist. “Following his guidance I have chosen natural items to complete this creation.”

 Madhab Das who completed his education from Delhi School of Art usually uses iron as his medium. Since it takes a lot of time to collect iron here; he has shifted to clay and wood. “And it’s a different experience,” he says. He also thanked the KBF for their efforts to bring young and budding artists into the mainstream.

 Shan KR, a fine arts student from Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, West Bengal, has similarly made a successful switch to wood, from his preferred metal and fiber mediums. “It has not hampered me in any way; besides, I had guidance from Valsan sir,” he said.

 Yadhu Krishnan, an MFA student from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, has been able look at art in a different light. “I have learnt how to convey what I really want to say using whatever medium is available to me,” he says.

 The studio has previously been led by masters such as Jyothi Basu, K. Raghunathan and P. K. Sadanandan. The next session will be led by renowned artist and graphic designer Orijit Sen.

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