Chandigarh is pleasantly dotted with Nek Chand’s works of art, from public places to private homes and also some schools. Nek Chand’s creative vigour shows itself at many such places, and without doubt, one can call his work the paragon of best from waste.
Bhavan Vidyalaya, a school at Sector 27, is home to a few of Nek Chand’s sculptures that were given to the institute as gifts more than eight to nine years ago. Nek Chand’s son Anuj Saini says the creator of the Rock Garden often used to oblige people’s requests for souvenirs like these. Our last week’s column bears testimony to that fact.
The sculptures at the school are a mix of utilitarian articles, such as plant holders and the aesthetically stimulating bird. The materials used include cement, plain and printed tiles and paint. The figurines can be spotted as one enters the reception side of the gate and some are placed in the school garden.
A few miles away from the school, over five such figurines can be found at a house in Sector 10, easily viewable to passers-by. All of the sculptures echo Nek Chand’s style, complete with liberal usage of tiles – coloured, with motifs of flowers, gods, leafage and abstract designs. Another feature worth observing is that all the figurines stand on a cuboid, to lend stability to the sculptures perhaps. The birds, with their mouths open, wings spread and almost human-like legs, depict a welcome openness. Here, too, the figurines are utilitarian and are used as plant holders. One of the figurines is holding a stream of ornamental bougainvillea on the top of its head. Ironically, the climber is found to be obeying gravity – sweeping down – devoid of a pillar of support.
It can be said that the facial expressions of most of Nek Chand’s figurines resonate simplicity and the features are captivating enough to seek the attention of onlookers. Across many sculptures, even though the faces are largely similar, they are different enough from each other to be unique.