An artist should react to city’s environment, situations, says Arzan Khambatta

The dolphins at a traffic island in Worli, the rhinoceros at Juhu Circle and flamingos near the mudflats of Sewri… The name behind several sculptures in the city, Arzan Khambatta is an architect by profession but a sculptor by choice with sensibilities favouring the synergy between urban life, environment and sustainability. His works are also found in corporate houses, hotels, and in private collections, with heights ranging between six inches and seventy feet. When he is not sculpting, he imparts his knowledge of the craft to children from all strata of society, be it International Baccalaureate schools or children from slums and streets of Mumbai. He tells the Free Press Journal that he likes challenges that defy his own creativity.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I started dabbling in visual stories out of scrap metal art in 1982, right after my Class 10 exams. It was a hobby then, not ever thinking that I would turn it into a profession one day. People then started noticing my work and asked if I could make it for them. First, I worked single-handedly but when the sizes grew, I had to bring in laborers to help me carry materials. Since my first show in 1993, I have had 14 solo shows and hundreds of group shows. My forte is to design for specific spaces.

What connection do you have to your art?

It is something that I absolutely love doing. Every day at the studio is challenging for me, and I make sure it stays that way because I want to do new things; I want to experiment with new materials, techniques and machines. I want to engage in dynamic things and it is this curiosity that keeps me going and pushes me to reinvent myself.

What materials do you use?

I use iron, copper, aluminum, stainless steel and wood. I use specialized welding machines and my studio looks more like an industrial workshop than an artist’s studio.

How do you determine what to charge for your art?

The size of the artwork and the materials determine that, but the most important one is the detailing. Even a three-feet artwork can cost more than a nine-feet one.

Bronze casting is the most expensive one, followed by stainless steel, brass, copper, iron and fiberglass.

How do you choose your themes?

I like my themes to be simple, appreciative, motivational and happy; I don’t do sad sculptures. I like creating something that brings a smile on someone’s face and that is always my first objective, as also the aesthetics of the area.

What is the role of an artist in society?

To be able to project their vision, to be able to react to the environment and do something related to that situation. It should not be religious or political, but contemporary; of a level that can be compared to the art at the international level. Artists have to break away from the old world mold and make contemporary sculptures, abstract pieces that challenge people’s sensibilities. Change is the only thing constant; even art has to keep evolving.

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