Shri. Ganesh L.Bhat is a seasoned sculptor with many special awards and unique collection! Carving stones, chiseling minds and creating the next generation of sculptors has been his dedicated journey.
“Shilpa Kala is a visual art.You see what is carved and chiseled in silence to understand its significance . If they are carved in a sequence, evidences of the whole story and their meaning reflects right in front of you. I was invited for 17 years to the Art-in-Action festival at Oxford,UK. They went beyond my limited English grammar into the limitless world of learning the sculptural work of art.”, said Shri. Ganesh L. Bhat, the legendary sculptor and Karnataka state awardee in a telephonic interview with CSP.
were the first sculptures discovered in India, what fascinated you to sculpt
and take it up as your profession?
The first sculptures in India date back to the Indus Valley civilisation, where stone and bronze carvings were discovered. This is one of the earliest instances of sculpture.Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism developed further, India produced some of the most beautiful bronze statues in the world as well as unrivalled temple carvings. Some huge shrines, such as the one at Ellora were not actually constructed using blocks, but instead carved out of rock, making them perhaps the largest and most intricate sculptures on earth.
father was a professional priest in one of the oldest Maha Ganesha temple in a
village called Idagunji , located on the West Coast of India in Uttara
Kannada district in Karnataka state, India. As a child I used to assist him in
cleaning the premises, and doing alankara (decorating ) the deity . That’s
how my fascination began and continues till date, am happy that it turned into
my profession also.
What are the
different styles of sculpting? Is there any style you have specialized in ?
Karnataka has the maximum number of Indian traditional styles. Some of the ancient styles are : Hoysala, Chalukya, Chola, Ganga, Rashtrakuta, and Vijayanagara. In other Southern states of India like Tamizh Nadu, Pallava and Chola styles are widely known, Chera and Pandiya are common styles in the state of Kerala, and Kalkatiya style is established in the state of Andhra Pradesh. I studied Sandalwood carvings from Shri. K.G Shantappa, Indian stone carvings from Shri. Devalakunda Vadiraj, and Iconography from Shri. S.K Ramachandra Rao. These Gurus were master sculptors and I am ever grateful to them.Especially under Shri.Devalakunda Vadiraj, I studied for 10 years as an apprentice in the Gurukula System of education( where the student lives and learns from the teacher). Most of my sculptors are in Hoysala style.
What are the ancient classics for the study of Shilpa shastra ( शिल्प शास्त्र /Science of art and craft)?
Kashyapa Shilpa shastra, Rupadhyana Ratnavali Shilpa shastra,Tantra Saara Sangarha Shilpa shastra, Saraswatiya Shipa shastra are some of the ancient classics of Shilpa Shasta ( शिल्प शास्त्र ). All these describe the process, techniques, rules, standard, proportions, measurements, compositions, the meaning and the design of the art and craft of making statues, stone murals, icons, painting, textiles, carpentry, pottery, jewellery, etc.
Its great to know that you have delivered lectures to more than 30, 000 foreigners in ART-IN - ACTION festival at Oxford, UK. What was it about, how was the response?
My Acharya Shri. Devalakunda used to take my sculptures and exhibit them in my name.So my name was known to the committee members of the festival even before they saw me! In 1997,I was invited to demonstrate for the foreigners and explain about Indian tradition, sculptures, drawings and Iconography. I literally became an “Art-Ambassador” of India for the ART-IN-ACTION festival. They did not mind the errors in my English grammar but were so keen and earnest to learn from me the art of making sculptures at the Shoot Farm Studio at Somerset, England. On a western stone I carved with Indian tools. More than 200 artists have participated every year. I was their Art Acharya for 17 years!
makes Indian sculptures attractive
internationally? Whose works inspire you?
Indian sculptures are grand and have a profound character to them. They are enhanced
with carvings that describe their heroism.For example Krishna as a Supreme
being is portrayed along with carvings of cows, Gopikas, saints
, the Govardhana mountain,the flute etc. Foreigners
are amazed by Indian perspectives of sculptures. They find it divine. They are
in awe and wonder of our temple architecture too.
Temples in India are world class Universities for sculptors. The
architectural principles of Hindu temples in India are described in Shilpa
a great study of aesthetics, culture,
science, civilization etc that help in understanding the designs,
geometries,mathematical principles and intricacies in creative construction of
Ajanta and Ellora
caves, adorned with beautiful sculptures, paintings and frescoes, are
considered to be one of the finest examples of ancient rock-cut architecture.
Located near Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra,India, they are declared as
UNESCO World Heritage Sites attracting several
I greatly admire the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da
Vinci, the icons in the history of Western art and craft.Michelangelo’s
fresco painted on the ceiling of Sistine
stunning & Mona Lisa, the famous of Leonardo's works seems to be most
valuable paintings in the world! How much these prolific sculptors
& painters must have toiled year after year to have made such a monumental
other countries have you been invited, to showcase and teach your craft?
have been invited to Ireland, France, Paris, and Germany. I have also conducted
workshops at the British Museum,Victorian &Albert Museum in London. Some of
them have even bought my sculptures.
is the difference between Indian and
Western style of sculptures?
In my knowledge, the most important difference is that in Western styles modelers - person or material like clay are used, that aids them in making the sculptures. In the Indian way, creativity first happens in their mind, and then they set out to carve and chisel based on their inner visualization.
Western sculpting happens mostly on white marbles as it seems closest to the color of the human body. In Indian sculpting, various types of stones such as sandstone, shell stone, slate stone, granite are used even though marbles are also used in some places.
and even music/dance is considered therapeutic . How is sculpting a therapy for
medium to mould your expressions, your inner thoughts and feelings. Your
understanding and imagination of particular subject takes on an external
visible form. This creative process itself is therapeutic.You stare fixedly for
a few minutes at a sculpture of an angry bull, you can vent out all your
frustrations!Looking at a beautiful flower sculpture melts your heart and makes
you appreciate beauty. Therefore every sculpture can influence your mind and
heal your soul.
What has been your most beautiful sculpture, any thing specially made for people abroad?
I have carved
many Ganeshas. In theVII century, Ganesha was popular in Indonesia, Java, Bali,
Japan, Nepal , Burma, Srilanka, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan. There where”Gaanapatya
Pantha”,a strong group of followers who made the murtis of Ganesha
widesspread. India was a larger country then.
became geographically smaller and when different religious groups occupied the
country we lost these Ganeshas. They became “abroad Ganeshas”. Even today, Kangiten
is worshipped as a deva ( god) in Japan .
It is represented as an elephant-headed male and female couple, venerated as giver of joy and prosperity and remover of obstacles. Saraswati, Krishna Radha, Dancing Shiva, Hanuman are some of the other dieties I have completed my work on.
I have carved a 9 feet long 5 feet high bull out of a single limestone as a tribute to the thousands of cows that were lost in the Foot-and-Mouth disease in UK.It became a historical memorial underlying the sacredness of cows! My sculptor on Mother and Child on a limestone has also been installed at Chalice well, Glastonbury, UK.
people see your sculptures, what do you hope they understand and appreciate ?
I sculpt keeping the purpose of the art form in mind. I don’t wish to confuse or give them difficult guesses. I want them to enjoy the beauty, the intricacies, the contours, the geometry and what the image stands for.My sculptures should not be a question paper, but an answer sheet!
many sculptors have you made till now. Do you have your own school here where
you impart training ?
I am blessed to have made more than a 1000 sculptures! I used to train many students at KPG Prabhu Artisan Training Center at Bidadi, Bangalore sponsored by Canara Bank for 18 years. More than 700 students have learnt at the Center. Nearly 50 foreign students have received training from me abroad.Now I have my own studio in“Deva Sculpture” in Sakalavara, Bangalore. My journey in teaching continues. I was a member of the advisory committee for National Gallery of modern art. I also serve as a Director for the Art Institute for Children.
How do you see
your art as science ?
times the raw materials used for
sculpting are plaster of Paris, wax, plasticine, reisen, concrete/cement etc.
These materials are non organic and have certain chemicals that can be toxic
Whereas teracotta, wood, metals such as gold, bronze copper,
silver these are organic. But the ultimate media is stone!Throughout history,
stone has been the principal material of sculpture.Stone has the longest
life,exceeding any other life forms. Hence working on the stone gives a sense
of comfort and strength just as a child feels happy and healthy in the presence
of the mother.
From your rich
experience what do yon think the future generations need to carry on this great
new generation must be taught the techniques of sculpting in a Sampradaya
(community) way, with a curriculum that has a standard
Study on how temples were built, the encouragement it received from great kings and patrons is a must in the academic syllabus of an education system. Funding for tuition from private and Government organisations can transform the talents of earnest learners into very sustainable employment opportunities in future
Link to Shri Ganesh's website: