Published - Ranjani Shettar draws in the air to create ethereal sculptures

Just a Bit More
I've recently mentioned Ranjani Shettar's exhibition, Flame of The Forest, at Third Floor – Hermès, Singapore. Here are some more background to the artist:
Based in Bangalore, Shettar has gained considerable international recognition in recent years, particularly in the United States, where she has participated in group exhibitions in prestigious venues like The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2010), The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2008).  The artist creates delicate sculptural installations that blend modern technologies and traditional craft techniques reflecting India’s own collision of tradition and modernity. While she is probably best known for her beeswax webs, she has also used tamarind kernel powder and muslin, sawdust, wood, latex, PVC tubing, silicone rubber and metal, always creating minimalist works with what appear to be an organic shape yet they often follow a very strict and planned pattern.

Sun Sneezers Blow Light Bubbles
Born in Bangalore, India in 1977, she trained as a sculptor at the Chitrakala Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore and as such beeswax was always a familiar material. “Beeswax is usually considered an intermediary material to facilitate metal sculpture casting. But I was always attracted to its immediacy so there is no loss of details, translucency which makes it look delicate and respond to light in a way that softens the form, and malleability that helps in moulding the form easily. Much later, in 2001, I decided to make sculptures out of beeswax that was not in an in-between process, but became a sculpture by itself.”

In that first piece, Thillana, the artist relied on the material to capture the movement of a well-known melody. “I had already been thinking for a long time of beeswax as a potential material for a sculpture. The translucency of the material felt suitable for what I was thinking of creating. I came up with a method that had more possibility than one sculpture,” she recalls.

She has used beeswax several times, notably in Vasanta (2004), which means springtime in Hindi, she threaded together hundreds of handmade beeswax pellets with coloured thread dyed in tea to form a net-like curtain that she suspended from the ceiling in a spiralling shape. With the threads at odd angles and the pellets placed irregularly, the piece suggested natural forms like cobwebs, an effect reinforced by the shadows cast on the wall.

She reprised the idea for the Biennale of Sydney 2006 for a work titled Just a bit more – a seven segment ethereal spider’s web-like installation. Many of her works evoke the whimsical. In Touch Me Not (2007), she recalled the bashful plant of the same name, using sturdy man-made materials: thousands of silvery steel rods, each carrying a creamy-coloured wooden bead. The project took two years to conceive and two weeks to set up as it comprised 12,500 holes into which every rod is set at a particular depth and angle.

In Bloom

For another poetically-titled work, Sun-sneezers blow light bubbles (2008), she hung stainless steel hoops wrapped in muslin cloth that she had dipped into tamarind kernel powder throughout a gallery creating a dream-like environment with a faint fragrance of clove. For the full story read Prestige Singapore in May.