Himmat Shah, Part 3: Deep Immersion through Clay

Home » Himmat Shah, Part 3: Deep Immersion through Clay
Himmat Shah with a self-portrait | Photo courtesy: Ravi Shekhar

Continued from Part 2.

According to Himmat Shah, an artist should be a very sensitive person, who could experience art at the very subtle levels and could give unmatched form to their own artworks. So that the unmatchable quality of their individuality stays in their work, and when faced with doubt, they could search for their path inside of their own self. The underlying context behind this is today’s reality, “where to search for one’s inner self is to obtain real truth, and to live out the truth in one’s own way. This self is that which gets animated inside you layer by layer. This self is where body, mind and harmonise together to shape the sequence of creation. The object thus created would showcase a glimpse of evolving from completeness to nothingness, and its thematic would convey the coming out of the womb. This creative process, arising out of the inner self, is free from any feeling of competition since competitions lead us to destruction. Indian philosophy has outrightly rejected competition.” Himmat Shah stresses time and again that Nature doesn’t believe in competition and that it rather respects diversity. “Nature’s greatest beauty lies in distinctness. It is necessary to experience this beauty, which is of a poetic kind. Nature is in itself a poem, which grants you participation in the process of thinking better. Therefore, all should establish their concerns through poetry; all should assimilate the different facets of Nature and should identify her heart. She is just like the rising sun, that has been worshipped in many forms; different religions, sects and communities the world over worship it in their own ways.”

The artist in a pensive mood | Photo courtesy: Ravi Shekhar

Himmatji says, “What I manage to find in clay, I’m able to experience in many ways — sometimes it is unyielding and sometimes becomes firm, and then other times it flexibly starts slipping from inside closed palms. Actually, mine is the highest place of privilege; what I have created, that has become mine, which I share with this world. This entire process for me is comparable to the desireless action that Krishna expounds upon in the Bhagvad Gita. It is a great experience, which helps in finding and shaping oneself. You’ll be surprised to learn that we belong to a nation where one’s destiny is considered to be determined since birth. Here, one’s birth isn’t seen to take place randomly in any religion, community or class, but rather is an integral and important part of a continuity that is given a very important place in this part of the world. This entire journey is an incomparable unfolding of events that brings you face to face with various experiences. I could share a lot that has been made possible only in this land, or was once thought, said or known here. The internationally acclaimed poet Octavio Paz also had a similar experience — he often used to say that the possibility to create something new lies only here, and nowhere else. I am now able to understand his words better, and am echoing his realisation. To truly understand this matter, ideological thought needs to be discarded; perhaps real freedom lies only in this act of letting go of ideology. This experience was gained by Lord Mahavir Jain, Buddha, Tagore, Rajneesh and Doctor Ambedkar. There is hardly any better glimpse of high thinking than that of Mahatma Gandhi, for whom his life itself was his message. As we all know, this nation had put everything at stake in the quest for truth; the reverberation of that fearless disposition is present in the air here. There is a certain kind of innocence here as well, which cannot be experienced anywhere else, and which is naturally gifted by the cosmos.

Himmat Shah | Photo courtesy: Ravi Shekhar

Every fibre of the art of the Indian subcontinent is heavily soaked in poetic and philosophical essence. The art of clay — ceramics — is even more ancient than the Vedas, and reflects direct experience.The effort to create from clay is itself wrong; ceramics is rather an organically occurring process comparable to the blooming of a flower. To get immersed in this medium and work in it, is akin to writing one’s destiny, where the purpose is to create images and reflections of a larger journey. There is nothing comparable to India’s ceramic art that could be seen anywhere else in the world. There is no other ceramic tradition where such extensive exploration has been carried out, while at the same time getting practised at such a huge scale. History has been testimony to the fact that excellent, distinct ceramic work got created in each time period in India, where the potter was given the title of the creator-god Prajapati, who is invaluable. Today, it is again important to understand the essence of that Prajapati and to connect it to life. For the seer, the process of conceiving any idea through the process of creation in birth and dissolution in death is very interesting. This process has been connected to life by our folk through including it in various old and new stories. A beautiful tale out of a complete narrative is seen as coming to completion, and this is the process of illuminating the correct path of liberation. Art carries both aspects — bondage and liberation; while one the one hand it binds, it also liberates on the other. This is its internal working, wherein its truth is hidden. The meanings of this truth tend to be very deep, which are extremely difficult to be spoken of. When spoken of, those meanings will turn into untruth. They can be experienced and understood only at a personal, individual level. These need to be sought alone by oneself, just like the great sages Krishna, Buddha, Patanjali and Gorakh, who attained the status of immortality by tasting this ultimate rasa. This experience is available to us as well, in simple forms.”

Continued in Part 4.