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Sculpture Meets Culture in India

Words:

Edd Norval
November 19, 2018

Art spaces are uniform. They're bright white and 90-degree angles. They're expected. It is largely to do with our attention being guided towards the art on display. It could be argued that in many ways, such spaces can actually derive from the pleasure of the art and lose our attention. What's the alternative then? How about a palace in Jaipur.

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The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace in Jaipur is a collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts Foundation. The dramatic backdrop houses over 60 sculptures by around 25 different artists. The rooms of the palace, intimately detailed in typical Indian palatial design and architecture create an interplay with the subject. This isn't about 'look at me', but rather 'look at us' - something that monotonous galleries could learn from (before it's too late).

Alongside work in the rooms, where certain pieces stand-out and others are able to blend in, there's a courtyard that allows the select few outdoor sculptures the space they need to breathe. A car, covered with a semi-reflective exterior, sits in solitude, clearly out of place. The dusty coloured facade lends a sepia tint to the static vehicle - it's surreal to see. The surroundings act like a frame and its frame gives it power and balance. It's an experience rather than a gallery walk-around.

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Could things like this be the future norm? They're certainly able to appeal to a wider audience than more conventional 'white-wall' gallery spaces. It's a hybrid of museum and stage. Things that don't look a part of it clearly are. Nothing is superfluous. There's art in the air that goes beyond the sculpture and, far from their presence being diminished, they pieces are democratised.


The journey through the palace is, in itself, a part of the show. It will affect how you engage with the pieces and how your brain will remember them. Born out of a genuine frustration at the lack of public art - this is India's way to attract new eyes and minds to the works of local and global artists. India, with their rich cultural identity, yet modern relationship with the world, is in many ways at a cross-roads. The marriage between the old and new in this space was a way to bridge that gap. It's success speaks for itself.

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