By Priyanka Gupta
Walking into the Aicon Gallery in Palo Alto (previously Arts India West) I was confronted with numerous heads all staring back at me. Some mounted on the wall and some on the ground. The works of Mayyur kailash Gupta explore the inherent beauty in the most feature-filled personality-laden form of the human body: the face.
The artist Mayyur speaks of his works, ‘I always arrive at my work from my own temperament and environment. Faces always attract me. I pick features and faces from people I pass by everyday or during my travels. I believe in the tactile quality to my work. I want people to want to touch my works.’ He goes through the process of constant sanding and resting and sanding again to get the exact feel that he wants. His material too invites the viewers to touch them. The soft wood heads like ‘Apsara’, ‘Guardian’, foil covered heads like ‘two friends’, graphite painted ‘for her’ and ‘head on head’, they all invite touch.
His works were also reminiscent of his latest travel to Kenya. He has incorporated folk art in his works. ‘Icon’ represents the many small corners of worship which are made from all found objects, hence transforming a simple mundane place to a sacred one. The work that struck me most was ‘two friends’. They seemed to almost want to pop out and reach out to me. It was a strange uncomfortable spot to be in. Even though the characteristics attributed to each sculpture are condensed to the barest of minimums, each form exudes a personality that is at once tranquil and arresting. Another work which had a rooster on top of a head of a girl arrested my attention. Thankfully I asked the artist and as he explained. ‘The rooster is an unknown spirit which is around each one of us’. This can be seen in many of his works here.
I must add that there is great skill needed to use wood. The features as sharp and the curves so perfect is a great accomplishment for the artist. I myself have worked in some sculpture and do find tremendous effort involved in every piece. This is not to say that other forms of art do not need as much precision and effort but it is the realization that wood has been used with great care and skill. I am concerned about the archival quality of this work though. Wood being wood is usually prone to damage. I do hope Mayyur’s efforts last a lifetime. I would also like to add that if the sculptures were put on a pedestal and not just put on the ground, I think it would have added to the persona as well.
Born in 1961, Mayyur Kailash Gupta's sculptures have been shown extensively throughout India and abroad. Mayyur has been recognized internationally, having received the Charles Wallace India Trust Award fellowship for the UK, along with several other accolades. The artist lives and works in Baroda.
Aicon Gallery can be found at 535 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301.