By Shriram Khadilkar
Last Sunday was a day of the Mahatma. While one Mahatma is internationally acclaimed as the trailblazer of the Freedom of India Movement, the other of circumscribed renown is Master Sculptor Late Shri Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar – Rodin of Indian sculpture. It wouldn’t be wrong to even call Rodin as the Karmarkar of Europe!
One of the great master sculptors of India, Mr. Karmarkar was motivated by the thoughts of the Freedom of India Movement. Incidentally, he helped the movement by giving asylum (space/place to hide from British soldiers) to freedom activists in his studio, which was then situated in Tardeo in Central Mumbai. He became a fortified barricade and stood tall between the British and the freedom movement activists.
|Mahatma Gandhi Torso (Bronze) at Mani Bhavan|
This was not enough; he requested Mahatmaji Gandhi to sit in front of him, so that he could sculpt him. The result – a lofty torso of Bapuji in bronze that occupies pride of place at Mani Bhavan, Mumbai – Gandhiji’s seat of activity in Mumbai between 1917 and 1934 –now converted into a museum and research centre.
|Vitthalbhay Patel (Bronze) at Girgam Chowpati|
Mr. Karmarkar gathered Indian sculptors together and fought against European sculptors working for projects in India. He asked the Indian sculptors to show their strength and solidarity against the European sculptors. This was also part of the bloodless movement against British rulers in India as far as the field of art was concerned. Another significant aspect of this movement was that it was initiated before the Progressive Groups’ movement in the field of art, in India. This led him to become the Mahatma of Indian sculptors.
Single-piece casting, 13ft tall Shivaji on a horse at Shivaji Nagar, Pune
A unique observation between Mahatmaji Gandhi and Mr. Karmarkar is that both share October 2 as their birthday.
|Lady with cow (Plaster of Paris)|
|Graceful Worry (Plaster of Paris 1930)|
Last Sunday, students and sculptors from Kolhapur and Mumbai were in Saswane, near Alibag (Maharashtra), the ancestral home of Mr. Karmarkar, to salute the great sculptor and to celebrate his birth anniversary. Last year there were around sixty students and staff from Sir J. J. School of Art in Saswane for the same. This year, Mrs. Sunanda Karmarkar, daughter-in-law of the late sculptor, who has been instrumental in reverently archiving and preserving all his work, (a rare gesture in the field of fine art) shared her thoughts with sculptors from Kolhapur and Mumbai.
This is now proposed as a regular feature for every October 2, in the name of Shri Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar.
|Shri V.P. Karmakar|