The sculptor represents the transition from one pose to another—he indicates how insensibly the first glides into the second. In his work we see a part of what was and we discover a part of what is to be. This describes aptly Chandra Kant Bhat. Though a successful sculptor, Chandra Kant Bhat prefers to remain low-profile. He believes in working rather than publicising himself.
Born in a family in which no one was associated remotely with the field of art, he was always encouraged by his family. Fond of making modern sculptures of human figures, his most famous and unique creations are placed at many of the prestigious places in India and abroad. At his project with NIIT, Jaipur, he made a ten-foot-long Mobius—a mathematical figure invented by a German mathematician.
In a free-wheeling téte-á-téte with Uday India he talks about his journey to the field of makeing modern sculptures.
“In 1963 I came to India from Africa. Since then I have been residing here in India. I lived in Vadodara for some time and then I shifted to Mumbai, where I completed my studies from Faculty of Fine Art whose Dean was the late Shanku Chaudhary. He is my inspiration and my Guruji,” recalled Mr Bhat.
Remembering the miserable days he had gone through after having passed the college, Mr Bhat says: “I worked in JJ Hospital for a period of 2 to 3 years. I used to design artificial limbs. Those days I did not have any accommodation and at least for a month I slept on the railway platform. Such was my pitiful financial condition that I didn’t have money to eat. Many a time, I was even beaten by the police just because I was resting on a platform. Today I have money but that is of no use.
Elaborating on his rise from the scratch, he says: “In 1972, Guruji asked me to come to Delhi for an international industrial exhibition being held in Pragati Maidan for the first time.
I came to Delhi and worked with him. At the same time, a craft mela was also held in Pragati Maidan, where Guruji’s collections were also on display and where I first met my would-be wife Mani Mala. Guruji introduced me to her. At that time she was working as an art teacher. She had perfected the art of stone carving and was also a talented painter. We liked each other and decided to live together. We had been into live-in relationship for about five years and then we got married. After finishing the project I went back to Vadodara. But something dramatic happened to me when for the first time I was invited to Delhi for showing my work in what turned out to be my first and last exhibition of my life. I was supposed to ring the organiser before leaving for Delhi. But then I only had 30 paise (3 coins of 10 paise each) in my pocket. I went inside a telephone booth and inserted the coin but something happened to the telephone box and abruptly all the coins started tumbling down with reverberating, crunching thuds. I thought of grabbling all the coins but was hesitant and felt ashamed due to the transparency of the booth. Finally, I gathered all my courage and took the risk and bagged all the coins and rushed to a nearby food-stall and have my tummy filled with a delicious meal.”
And somehow Mr Bhat reached Delhi. His exhibition in Delhi turned out to be a big success story. He sold his entire collection for nineteen thousand rupees. This proved to be a turning point in Mr Bhat’s career. Thereafter, he never looked back.
One of the best pieces of his works is the Mobius, which he has recently made for NIIT, Jaipur. Mr Bhat has dedicated this piece to his Guruji.
By Vaishali Tanwar