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Himmat Shah, Part 4: Finding bliss through clay, and the Self through bliss

Continued from Part 3.


“Buddha and Mahavir were able to make progress only through their own experience, and that why I see art and spirituality being connected in this land. We will have to have conversations like those in the Upanishads, by immersing ourselves in art, and thereby with our artworks. We will have to search for new discourses here. In art, various kinds of dialogues have been created, showcased in their many aspects. All of this is visually present right in front of our eyes. Such artworks continuously make us feel one with them, as well as with the rhythm of creation. They invite us to get engrossed in them. But I don’t know why we have kept ourselves constrained; we don’t want to free ourselves from our burdens, and do not search for possibilities.” Himmat Shah says, “Why is this so? I feel puzzled. We will have to let go of the feeling of inferiority; we will have to put it aside and get ourselves in tune with design. We will have to contemplate our actions, because that is the highest path towards bliss, where many possibilities are implicitly present. Tell me — could the sun ever have any boundaries? It is boundless and infinite. It never gets old, rather touches unending heights from a new point every time. For this reason, there exists a deep connection between the entire cosmos and the artist, just like that between a musical note and its musical possibility, which lets flow that incomparable bliss which you could stay with for your entire life. Surely, you could stay in joy for your entire life, but we can’t stay in misery for too long. Actually, happiness and misery are related in the same manner as sunlight and shadow. But bliss is a state in which we experience deep union. Art provides us complete, unblemished manifestation. The most important fact is that there is nothing greater than that which provides you with bliss. In this world, bliss alone is the ultimate expression of that moksha — salvation — which is tacitly present in art.

Nobody can truly make the claim of understanding Indian dance and music. In the miniature tradition, something new and different gets revealed every time with each viewing. We get entranced by new meanings, analogies and visual imaginations. In that tradition, painting isn’t just painting. Rather, it registers its incredible presence in front of you in the form of depicting life. An art form like our music alone carries with it the potency of giving birth to many art disciplines. This is why whatever we have in the form of art, is truth and substance that is beyond even knowledge, is very deep in itself and has been brought to the fore after extremely deep comprehension. In reality, there is no alternative to this country. Nothing can take the place of this civilization, which carries the capacity of bringing you face to face with creations daily by taking you through various experiences, and which talks of uniting the sky inside and the sky outside you.


Art is also another name for coexistence. To see it separately would be our naivety. Art is enmeshed in our life itself, and perpetually mesmerizes. Our entire era gets encompassed in its circumference. You experience art as being realised in both articulated and unarticulated form, in your own interiority. You find it getting manifested in various aspects. You could stand witness to its incredible mysteries, provided that you get to experience your individuality. Even the Upanishads constantly talk about identifying your own true nature.”

Himmat Shah could be seen persuading to search for that same identity. He keeps making the call to search for one’s own self, which nobody else can provide to you. You will have to yourself immerse in its inner consciousness, which is another big step towards transcending the mundane and being one with your spiritual core. Sculpture, in this context, is a confluence of endless possibilities, where the drafts of extensive ideas get transformed in actual form through the immersive blow of creative thoughts. This creative engagement is also an aspect of the beautiful realization of truth. Here I repeat Himmatji’s words, “If seen in the larger context, the poetics of sculpture is highly interesting among the visual arts, since despite being an integral part of architecture it has managed to carve out and maintain its own distinct identity. Surely it lies between sky and ground — a space that could be called a meeting point, which continues to convey the unceasing rhythm of art and aesthetics.”

When it comes to the forms found by him in clay, Himmatji says, “Clay is complete in and of itself. It stands for completeness. Creation and dissolution, both are its aspects. It transforms you with each passing moment, and possesses unfathomable flexibility. It contains the primordial five elements. In clay, the process of making and crumbling is continuously at work. It’s astonishing to see what all gets produced from this simple clay! We merely attempt to find form in this clay, and that too with the anticipation of being its momentary audience.”

Whatever Himmat Shah found in his vicinity, whatever he experienced in whatever way, he shaped it elegantly in the form of clay, and gave it a new visual language. For instance, he cast in clay thousands of objects such as a piece of some pipe, a bowl, tap, rope, tool, wire, tire, box, screw nut, spoon, tumbler and so on, and presented them in a new form to this world. Himmat Shah gave birth to a new kind of sculptural language, which is in and of itself extraordinarily remarkable. In this process, he kept adding his deeply realised perceptions, which he has called ‘sense’. This ‘sense’ is definitely overflowing with poetic and philosophical bhavas, which have been transformed into visual form. If this isn’t an expansion of possibilities, then what is? To become clay along with clay is an unparalleled experience. In this entire process, a dialogue with energy takes place. Himmatji give this energy the designation of being the benchmark of the highest order. For him, energy, space, matter prove to be synonymous with that ultimate force which which is very difficult to explain and describe in words. This is exactly like the experience of stepping into flowing water, where a lot passes by upon touching you and where you come out renewed upon taking a plunge, blossoming like a flower. In the womb of this experience, hides truth.

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