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Vinod Patel – A New Idiom
Vinod Patel works with objects found in factories, industrial ware houses, junk yards, spare part shops, tool rooms and a number of such other places. He is so well versed with the technicalities of welding, denting, painting, metal plating, riveting and so on. When asked about his interest in all such places and trades he says, "I grew up in Rourkela, the steel city of Orissa. My early memories are suffused with impressions of large machines, huge yards of metal scrap, extensive workshops along with an overwhelming impact of dynamic energy that forms the core of any of such industries. Being a student of physics, and at that a good one, enhanced my interest in mechanical technicalities also. Later on, as I shifted to Baroda and joined the Faculty of Fine Arts for my studies in Sculpture, my interest stayed alive as Baroda also is an industrial location."

It is quite natural that while striving to formulate an idiom for his sculptural imagery, the impressions of industry in general, and mechanics in particular, must have worked as initial visual stimuli for him. Infect man by nature also yearns to return to the past. This yearning or nostalgia, all through the evolution of literature and art, has proved to be a potent source of inspiration. From the stand point of psychology of perception too, we understand that memory schemata form a major factor in visualization. Initially in the mind and later on during actual transition of thought into a particular or perceptible form. However, the reality a work of art attains, actually is the sum total of what we see, react to, think about, perceive, memorize, personalize and ultimately feel like externalizing as a concrete manifestation or form. The phenomenon, however, requires gestation, the stretch of which may not be visible actually. What will be or rather should be visible is the common origin from which art draws itself – 'the life': its external activities now or the random experiences from the past, imprints of by gone times and a feeling to visit them again.

No wonder, Vinod's whole work is a plethora of 'objects' which have 'become' as the culmination of a process of transformative integration of various shapes reorganized and re-energized – sometimes by breaking down the identity of an already well-defined shape by posting it in an area of different function and an entirely new meaning.

Ultimately whatever forms as a result, exhibits a physical impact, technical virtuosity and an extreme conceptual simplicity. The whole process is phenomenal and imparts the object/sculpture an autonomy that empowers it to generate and specify its own space : A space that instigates us to dissociate from our traditional leaning towards interpretation and understanding the work via the routes of symbolism, narrative, metaphor or the habit of telling and listening to stories. Possibly that is why on asking about the location of his work vis--vis tradition and contemporary practices in sculpture he is clear in his mind as he says, "I prefer to work with materials such as acrylic, polyester or highly polished and finely painted metal objects and so on. These materials are surely more helpful in generating such forms as would have a contemporary or even a futuristic stance".

As Geeta Kapur in one of her writings on Himmat Shahs' artistic development appreciates the drive within Indian artists from rural background to make an astonishing transition to a modernist vocabulary, so Vinod's work also convinces that it is neither for mere decoration of interiors nor possession as an individual treasure but it instead yearns to be the manifestation of a desire to reach out, share experience and also the resulting joy of that creative expression – should we say, a renewed search for the meaning of existence.

Though making statements (generally politically profitable) is customary for artists of our times, Vinod as a person does not seem to entertain such a compulsion. As a wild life enthusiast, he is actually concerned with the well being of all life forms, however tiny or large these are. That is why, perhaps, he got involved in tracing a Dinosaurs trail along Balasinor and collecting corals along Jamnagar which eventually culminated in working to evolve a full-fledged Dinosaurs Park in Gandhinagar, Gujrat.

As an artist he says, 'I want to help people to focus attention, even on the life forms, so tiny and seemingly of no direct benefit to human society. For example, small insects, larvae, caterpillars, tiny birds, ants, flies and what not'. Eventually the sculptural transformations of a wide variety of flora and fauna get evolved. Of course in a number of his works Vinod emphasizes upon astonishingly interesting and visually impressionable shapes, moving textures and refreshing colours along with intricate formal structure of tiny insects, birds, vegetation, flowers and many such other things. Through the creative process the works produced and the associations which accompany these naturally undergo transformation. Our critical evaluation may not substitute for the experience of realizing a particular work or the over all phenomenon that makes an artist to materialize his feelings. Yet what comes forth to us as a tangible reality is the forms devised and calculated to become directly and obviously meaningful with their inherent import. The underlying formats which though initially drawn from nature, attain strikingly urban character with no compulsive distancing between the idea and its material manifestation but rather the celebration of a dynamic interaction between man and material in order to arrive at forms with their independent identity exuding grace and energy.

Rajendar Tiku
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