Best known for his sculptures, Dhruva Mistry combines religious art of ancient civilizations along with the popular art of the bazaar. His works bear a rich narrative quality and vary in style and scale- from small sculptures in bronze to monumental works for public spaces, made of sand, cement, stone, and stainless steel.
Dhruva Mistry studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda (1974-81) before going on to study further at the Royal College of Art, London (1981-83) on a British Council Scholarship. He has had several solos and group shows in India and abroad since 1976. His first was mounted at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1982). In the year between 1984 and ’85, Mistry was an artist in residence at Kettle’s Yard Gallery with a Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge. Since then Mistry has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Japan. His works have been included in several prestigious collections including those at the Lalit Kala Akademi, the Tate Gallery, the Arts Council, the British Council, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan. His public art installations include sculptural pieces installed at Goodwood, Sussex, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan. Mistry has also been commissioned to produce sculptures for the Victoria Square in Birmingham, U.K and Tamano City, Japan. In 1994, he was selected by the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, to mount his works at the show, Asian Artists Today – Fukuoka Annual VII. In 1991, Mistry was given the honor of being elected into the Royal Academy of Arts and in 1993, was invited to be a Fellow with the Royal Society of British Sculptors, London. On returning to Baroda, in 1997, he was appointed as Professor, Head of Sculpture and Dean of Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.University, Baroda. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious, Honorary CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
His works, apart from being conceptual, also engage with the process of art-making, while alluding to the intellectual debate between the artist and viewer, whether implied or expressed, that a work of art premises and/or gives rise to.
Mistry’s present oeuvre Steel, Stainless Still, comprises of free-standing sculptures and reliefs where he has explored the materiality of steel in terms of its contrasts. While he brings forth the frigidness of the material, he also discovers sensuality in the medium. The smooth unblemished surface of the material provides Mistry with singular possibilities that he seizes to reveal. Time and again, Mistry explores the surrounding boundaries of space where his figures are planted. The artist’s desire for simplicity prompted him to incorporate the elemental forms of the square and circle in the current oeuvre, identified as Kaliscape, Spatial Diagram, Still Life, Maya Medallion, and Maya Head, a reduction to the basic elements of shapes that constitute life around one.
In works titled Maya, there is no conscious attempt to touch upon the mythological aspect, however, Mistry concedes that his works reveal a mystery of interpretative insights and of course the ambiguity of Maya- the illusion of the phenomenal world.
The artist has been working in steel since 1999 but turned to metal sheet only in 2003. His desire to explore the finest possibilities of physical sculpture initiated him to identify the simplest way of constructing a free-standing sculpted steel figure. Seated Figure is one of his early attempts whereas Fallen Torso is a more complex composition in steel.
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