60 Years of Creation with Balan Nambiar: Award-Winning Artist, Mentor & Sculptor

Among the roster of great Indian sculptors, few intrigue and challenge the mind as much as the work of Balan Nambiar.

As evident from his latest exhibition ‘Sculpting in Time: Balan Nambiar and his Six Decades of Engagement with Materiality’, curated by Sadanand Menon and held at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, Nambiar is a master of a wide range of media.

On display at the exhibition were around 300 pieces, spanning six decades of his prolific career, introducing audiences to pieces that defined his career, including his signature towering stainless-steel sculptures, such as a 272 cm tall piece titled ‘Spiraling Upward’, oil paintings, enamels in silver and copper, sketches and photographs. Many were inspired by his extensive research on over 27 different ritual arts of Kerala and Tulu Nadu, their ancient philosophies, literature and music. Each is a testament to Nambiar’s enduring ingenuity.

Sculpting in Time: Balan Nambiar and his Six Decades of Engagement with Matertiality, curated by Sadanand Menon and held at the National Gallery of Modern, Bengaluru

Nambiar’s other long-standing passion has been teaching art to students since 1971. Since 2009 he has been holding the classes on Sundays at NGMA, which he claims to have cancelled only twice in the past 47 years. His students, aged 6 to 12 are encouraged to understand and learn through observation instead of calculation, and making visualisation and representation more important. Also, they are never allowed to copy from another picture or drawing.

These are techniques Nambiar has learned and applied in his life as well. As the sculptor explained in his presentation ‘Golden Ratio And The Art Of Balan Nambiar’ held in February as part of the NGMA exhibition, natural concepts such as the Golden Ratio (a proportion of width to height of 1:1.618) has influenced his work both unconsciously and consciously.

In the same presentation, Nambiar pointed out a project he worked on in 1978 for the Portland Cement Factory in Germany for which he created 6 outdoor sculptures, including one named ‘The Conch’ that was 240 cm in height. It was later measured and found to be in proportion to the Golden Ratio – something that he had not planned for, he added. In other works, Balan has implemented the Golden Ratio without intent.

Conch, GRG | Portland Cement Factory, Leimen, Germany | 240 cm (h) | 1978

Balan’s exhibition and talk was inspiring, especially for aspirants in the field of art, design and architecture. His understanding, learning and visual knowledge gained from the past sixty years is a timely diction to look towards nature’s forms and geometry for intrinsic and organic tutelage.

Written by Tejashree Anchan with thanks to Mr. Nambiar

Image Credit:Balan Nambiar


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