The Fuschia Tree
Editor's Note.
It's like hanging off a roof, too weak to get back up, strong enough to hold on. Or perhaps it is learning to see yourself from the perspective of the roof. Two people, now one, revisit the world via "the mediation of the difference in their gazes" (Alan Badiou, In Praise of Love).

Love is anxious about the future, torn in the present, exhilarated by the past. Love is swept away by ideas and angst, and bound, entranced, steadied by weight. Anchored. Light and floating
Because it overcomes time: yes, indeed, only in love, is eternity finite.
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By Varsha Reshamwala, Issue 17, Love, February 2013
Love, that many-splendoured thing, is after all an elusive emotion. Yet a simple scribble of a heart conveys the feeling. It is not difficult to trace how hearts have come to capture our imagination. Now-extinct ‘Hallmark’ cards, staple Valentine’s Day presents like heart-shaped balloons and graffiti scrawled on trees and walls depicting hearts with arrows pierced through them or hearts sandwiched between the names of two lovers. The ‘heart’ is indeed ingrained in our popular culture and by consequence in our imaginations. Little wonder then that artists turn to sculpting the ‘heart’. It must be an attempt to pin down their fears, frustrations, fantasies and other figments of their imaginings. While mulling over this, I came across Narendra Yadav’s ‘Chickenpox’.

Two hearts, suspended in a shiny steel structure, are coupled with one another through tubes that have a blood-like liquid running through them. Each one feeds the other, living not parasitically, but harmoniously – at once giving and getting.

While there is nothing mushy or cutesy about the work, the feeling of interdependence is a romantic one, appearing as though the two hearts are working as one. Why, then, would the work be named after a sickly disease?

“To flummox the viewer!” the artist playfully declares. The title certainly does that, but it also leaves me thinking. ‘Chickenpox’, an outbreak of spots that rages across the body and threatens to leave behind pitted marks, is a condition that most in the sub-continent have been victim of as children. Once struck by the disease, one becomes immune to it. One can fall prey to the disease therefore only once. Is true love also a condition that happens only once? Or perhaps the artist wanted to say that if love felt turns sour, one is forever scarred by the experience? Once bitten twice shy?

The steel structure that encases Yadav’s hearts, lends an industrial feel to the work. In a similar vein, Prashant Pandey’s 'Love' is a large, looming sculpture of a heart made out of shards of white marble, held together by an iron mesh and industrial glue. The work does not come across as delicate or fragile but the message implied certainly does; if, like I did, one deduces that a broken heart, inferred by the many shattered chunks of marble, can never really be mended.

Jitish Kallat’s caramel-coloured heart-shaped 'Lipid Opus' on the other hand, is made of resin – a heavy industrial material – but on first glace appears soft and waxy. It contains a heavy pile-up of cars and the detritus that makes up Bombay, the city closest to the artist’s heart because it is home for him.

The amorphous thing that we call love can then be pinned down - in more ways than one. After all, there are many ways of the heart.

Narendra Yadav is an advertising professional who, in his free time, creates works that straddle conceptual art, sculpture and installation. He was born in Ratnagiri in 1964 and lives and works in Mumbai.

Prashant Pandey holds an MFA in Sculpture from MS University, Baroda and typically creates sculptures using recycled, reclaimed and found material. He was born in Jaipur in 1984 and lives and works in Jaipur.

Jitish Kallat, an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, works in a variety of media, often reflecting on his involvement with his home city Mumbai. Born in Mumbai in 1974 and lives and works in Mumbai.

Varsha Reshamwala began with investment banking and now hopes to immerse herself in the field of art criticism. She was born in 1986 and lives and works in Mumbai.

Also in this issue

  • From King To Prince, With Love
    The piece below is an imagined reverie between two lovers who live on separate continents. I use the form of love-letters as a window into the candid space that only the people experiencing...
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  • Dancing Amour.
    If love between two people were to be performed, it would be expressed through the intense awareness that two bodies have of each other, in inertia and kinesis: rolling, sliding, pushing...
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  • The Shape of Time & Words.
    Someone once said ‘but your stories all end in sadness.’ The events in my stories are sometimes sad, but my attempt in every story is to end with a small ‘lift.’ That is, I want the story to...
    Read More

Illusion: Seeing Beyond Seeing
Meaning: In Search of Significance.
Melody: A Different Tune
Rhythm: Ordering Time

Dhrupadi Ghosh is an old friend of mine. We have often had long sessions of adda late at night, discussing her dream projects since her college days at Santiniketan, where she majored in Sculpture.