“Shivling is the purest form of abstract symbolic sculpture where ling and yoni are both depicted in the most powerful way.”
“Words become lyrical when rhymed in the right way,
Stones become marvels when carved in the right shape,
Moulded by the imagination of mind,
And love of the heart,
Art will keep on,
Taking our breath away.”
We are rock people. We have lived in them, we have fought with them, hail we have made everything around them. From the wheel that made possible all the innovations to come alive to the spaceships which set our imagination ablaze by their possibilities. But the most interesting thing about all these innovations is that they were sparked by a single person’s imagination but are realized by the hard work of billions throughout the human evolution.
Before the beginning of any innovation there is a dream.
A dream that has the power to drive us years over years, miles over miles to schools, to work, to countries and beyond. No one could ever say what amount of hard work one needs to put in before realizing dreams but one thing is for sure if we are persistent than our dreams will definitely become a reality one day.
Such is the story of Mr. Bhupesh Kavadia.
Born and raised in Udaipur, he sat out to make his career in a field which was once considered taboo.
Can you think what it could be?
Well while you’re thinking let me give a brief walk around the place we took our interview.
It was around 11:30 a.m. in January, Sun was shining brightly and sunlight was coming through window into what we think was study. A beautiful shelf filled with books and art pieces was in front of us. It was one of those settings which every person want to in his life. Open and spacious, the study also had an aquarium. A really big one and with the sound of water flowing, the ambience was just calming.
Have you guessed what he do? Let’s find out if your guess correct or not. ☺
Sir, please tell us your story?
“My father was a teacher. I did my schooling from St. Pauls. During school days, I got involved with theatres. We had a small group called “Triveni Kala Sangam”. It comprised of many senior people and others having a passion for art like me. My attachment for art began with this group. Our seniors in the group were mostly doctors, engineers and they were able to give time to the theatres in the evening hours. So, from that point of time only, my grooming as an artist had nicely begun with an opportunity to work with such people in a creative environment.
Theatre was a team work. We had to clean the set, bring tea, design stage and of course act. There were so many things we had to do and this made the environment more creative and lively. Then, with the introduction of TV, the theatre audience started to reduce and gradually theatres became a thing of past. It was a huge setback for all of us.
During this period, fortuitously I met some senior sculptors who were working in Udaipur. When I saw their work, driven by the thought of doing something like it, I also tried my hands in sculpturing. In the beginning it was just a curiosity whether I can do it or not. All I had thought was to make a little sculpture of my own and put it in my mantelpiece.
But this curiosity of mine was unconsciously turning into a passion for the art. I started to visit the place on a daily basis. Initially, it was for few hours a day, then it turned into half days and finally a full time process. By then it had become a serious affair and with the support of the whole art community my confidence also began to develop.”
Bhupesh ji might be humble about his success and a down to earth person but we knew what this man was capable of as soon as we entered his gallery “Bougain Villaea”.
Here’s a fun fact: Most of us have already seen the front of his gallery.
A big white elephant sculpture standing in front of a square arched entrance way.
Can you remember the place? (Hint: It’s on Rani road’s beginning)
As we walked past that elephant on the cobbled path, we were impressed by the beautiful sculptures that watched us till we reached the end only to witness a surreal experience.
Big, small, shining, dull, captivating, pondering, the entire place was full of beautiful and vivid sculptures, paintings and other art works.
The experience we had there was unexplainable. It was like going back into the childhood where you were free to interpret things the way you wanted to, where you’d let your imagination go free. We started doing that only and every time we hit on the meaning of a sculpture, a painting and any other art displayed there we were fired by a new one.
That’s the beauty of art.
Art sets you free but to be an artist in our society comes at a price. Let us hear from Bhupesh ji about how his family reacted when they found out about his new passion!
Tell us what happened when your family found out that sculpturing has become a serious affair for you?
“They were okay with it till it was a hobby but as soon as it became a serious thing they began to worry. Therefore, I started to find jobs accordingly so that my family does not have to worry about my career. But for me, career orientation was completely lost at that time. Sculpting had become a passion for me.
During that time, while I was searching for a job, I got a chance to join a private businessman as a supervisor for his Traditional Sculpture Department. In this way I tried to stay as close to stones as possible. Before joining the job, I placed my terms in front of him that I would work with the stones after 5 in the evening. All my work would remain his property but the creative independence will be mine. He very generously agreed to it and he was very happy with his decision after seeing my work.
As time passed, my work started getting recognition. My hard work started paying off and finally I bagged a wonderful opportunity of receiving the highest state award for the same.
When I shared it with my parents, my father said, “Isse zindagi nahi chalegi tumhari”, because at that time it was an amount of just Rs. 5000 (which wasn’t enough for a livelihood) and a certificate. For some time, it was still a shock for him that his boy was going out for carving stones. Sculpting didn’t have a serious definition then.
Gradually, we started joining exhibitions in Delhi and Bombay. Luckily some renowned art collectors liked my work and the patronage they gave encouraged us a lot. Eventually, on an individual level, monetary gain also started which helped me become more confident.
Finally, I left job and replaced this hobby as full time work. As I received more and more recognition and awards for my work such as Indian National Award etc., my family also started supporting me. My biggest support all this way came from my wife.”
(With smiles beaming on our face)
Isn’t it glad to know that people who care about you sooner or later joins you on the way of your dreams. And when you are mature enough you began to understand that the only reason they stop you from doing something is because they are concerned for you which make you love them even more.
But why choose Udaipur for an art gallery and for work?
We all know how much negligent we are about art in Udaipur. Being locals we are the ones whose support is still the least for the art community. So we became more curious as to why he chose to stay in Udaipur even after getting so much recognition internationally. His answer also shed light on the beginning and purpose of starting the “Bougain Villaea Gallery”.
(In his words)
“Baroda University ke ek senior professor the. Hum ek symposium me sath me the. Unka yeh kehna tha ki ladke tu ye sheher chaudkar kahin bahar chala ja. Like Bombay or Delhi. Kyunki tera ye sheher sheher nahi gaav he and yahan par tujhe koi projection nahi rahega.”
(Translation: I had a chance to meet a senior professor of Baroda University at a symposium. He said to me that you should leave this city and go to big cities like Delhi or Bombay because your city is not a city but a village and here you won’t find any projection.)
“His answer made me to think that why can’t I do something here in Udaipur. I took this as a challenge and started a studio where few people including me worked together.”
“Then we started our first art gallery on a small place. We received commendable support from art community and other people. Udaipur being a tourist destination added as icing on the cake creating more exposure for our gallery. This lead to the beginning of the growth of our gallery, which slowly seeded from a small shop to a big showroom. People now knew that the levels of work that they see in New York, London is also available in Udaipur.”
“Then we had our own publication, a coffee table book just to authenticate ourselves.”
International footfall! Why is the local footfall is so less in these galleries?
Anyways moving forward, we went through some books. And seriously, we never could have imagined that art work of such a splendid level would ever have been possible in Udaipur. I know, our beloved city is already world famed for miniature arts but once you go through this stuff, this in house publication, you would realise that we have a much wider gamut of talent then we know.
Bougain Villaea Gallery proudly shows this gamut of talent under one roof. Spread over two floors is artwork from more than 30 different artists of varying age groups and styles. The amalgamation of art here was indistinguishable.
We both agreed to this fact after we saw these pictures again. By the way you must have been thinking from long as to who are WE here!!
I am Nirbhay, currently narrating you the interview in my words and my friend Siddharth Nagar.
One of his questions took us back to the days when Bhupesh Ji was connected to the theatres.
Sir! You’re attached to theatre. Theatre people are generally seen to do their work more with feelings and seriousness. So are your theatre feelings and art feelings connected?
“Obviously! Not only mine (for the reason I was attached to theatre), but for all those who are artists (any field), if they are not doing it with their soul then they are not doing an artwork.
It may be that you are technically good but until and unless you put your soul in that work it will be considered dead only. It may become commercially successful but you will never be satisfied. It would never make you happy like ‘yaar maza aa gaya isko karne me’. “
Bhupesh ji really puts up a complex thing in the simplest way possible and makes us want to explore even more of his perspectives and thoughts.
Sir, most of us have a passion for something but we do not have enough skills for it and under certain circumstances we literally give up on it. So do you think one should give up his passion if she/he does not possess good technical skills?
“If there is passion then you don’t need to have skills in advance. No matter how you’re doodling or sketching, it doesn’t matter. It is your passion and firstly it is for you. For example, suppose I am seeing a tree and I want to draw it but I don’t know sketching even then I can draw it in my way. I don’t have to follow a pattern as doing so would become a copy and there would not be any ideas of mine.
It’s like the children do. When you give them a piece of paper to draw, they draw according to their own will. And everything they draw is their own imagination. But the only point here is that their teacher does not teach them how a tree, a hill etc. should be drawn. A teacher should always want from his/her students to develop their own ideas and bring an essence of their imagination in anything they draw.
We should not bring too much academics in our passion because then we become more prejudiced. We will then start to follow the set of rules given in academics and then the art won’t be ours.
It is a very personal thing about how we perceive things and our expressions should be based on our perception unbiased.”
Perception. It’s a small word that can be seen causing chaos since our beginning.
Sir, like you said that artists draw from their imagination. So, how often it happens that people perceives your work the way you did when you made it?
“Ummm! Many a times it does not happen because a viewer’s mind-set and a creator’s mind-set (at the time of creating) are usually different. It is merely a chance of probability that a viewer perceives this art as the creators’ when he created it.
But artwork gives you a freedom of perception. Suppose if what artist created is a very personal thing then when a viewer sees it, he/she has the freedom of perceiving it in his/her own way.”
The Perception Battle (as I like to call it) might have happened with you too at some point of time. Whatever result it has led to, the most important thing is that we should not let others diffuse our perception and neither should we try to diffuse theirs.
And to all the teachers, maybe your perception of literature, art may clash with your students. It is my humble request to you that don’t let their perception get diffused with the ones suitable to be written in examinations. ☺
With these words it’s obvious what our next question is going to be.
Sir, what are your views for our education system?
“Our educational system requires a complete revival because it has just become a manufacturing system. It has turned into a factory, we put students there, give them a degree and that’s it. Students’ real grooming, real personality development are widely forgotten in this process.
To make students good human beings, putting good values in them should be very important. Our education system does not justify many things. It just says this thing has happened, so remember it and move on.”
Do you agree?
The BV Gallery features a variety of stone sculptures along with other forms of visual art and since Bhupesh Ji has a sculpturing background, let us hear from him about the art form in a little detail.
Tell us something about your work?
“Well, every art form is equally adorable but personally I love to work with stones. Granite, Marble, Sandstone etc. and sometimes I even add steel to the stone but yeah you can say my medium for expression is basically stones only.”
From a block of stone to a sculpture!! How does it happen? Where do you begin from?
“First part of the process is thought process. In it when you first see the stone you’re going to work on, you don’t think about carving it. You try to understand it. Sometimes the stone tells you how you should begin. It gives you an intuitive point to start your work from. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to do while sometimes you may choose the material and start if you already know what you’re going to build.”
With so much variety of stones, does the requirement of technical skills, tools vary?
“Yes, both techniques and tools vary. And along with them, positioning of the stones, arrangement of grains, layers are also important. For instance, if you are working on a sedimentary rock then you have to be careful that you don’t strike in its layers so as to avoid it being damaged. Tools too vary and they depend on the stones you are working with.”
Your knowledge is very impressive. Did it evolved over years of working or you learnt it from somewhere?
“This could be achieved only with time by working continuously, reading and learning from accidents. By doing wrong things, technique wise, like damaging a stone by using a wrong technique and by understanding the reason why did it happen.”
Sir, according to you, which has been your best work up till now?
“It’s a difficult question. It is like asking a mother, which one is her favourite child.”
Okay, so any work that has challenged you creatively?
“Well if you see on Rani Road, there is a big sculpture placed their titled “Windows to Nature”. It was part of a one month symposium which I was conveying. It was a huge responsibility because we invited 16 Big sculptors from all over the world and I was managing each and everything. And in all that business, I was unable to complete my own sculpture.
Luckily, I was able to get an extension of 10 days and I took two blocks which no other artist had chosen and an idea clicked in my mind and I completed this huge work within 3 days.”
I bet all of us will be having our own moments with this piece of art. ☺
Sir, as an internationally recognized sculptor, what effects fame had(ve) on your life and work?
“Till now due to all the patronization and encouragement that I have received I have become more motivated to prove by my artwork. Now when I have everything else my struggle starts with my work only. I have become more confident, more self-criticizing.”
Sir, along with you there are other people also working in the gallery. So, are there any opinion differences that occur between the artists?
“Here as such there is no agenda of working together so each artist is working on their own and hence, the chances of disputes are greatly minimized. And, when we sit together and discuss our views on universal things then they are more of discussions and understanding of each other’s views.”
“So, here, every discussion is taken in a positive way mostly” added Siddharth. (smile)
“Yes! Absolutely!!” (smiled back)
Our time in the gallery was flowing like a breeze. Both of us were enjoying the conversation and popping out questions but unfortunately not all of the questions could make their way into this article but ek last question toh banta he. ☺
What are your plans for coming years?
“We have set up a studio near Thur Ki Paal. It is full of natural landscape and beauty. We are currently planning to build artist residencies there so that artists from all over the world can come and work here.
Also, if someone is interested in learning the sculpturing art then they could also volunteer. There would not be any professional teaching but I would indeed share my experiences with them.”
Bougain Villaea is a beautiful piece of work in our city or one can say it is a collage of the talent and the art, our communities should possess.
I am still surprised, how such a beautiful place still remains hidden from our sight. Maybe, it is because of lack of concern for our own talents or of the way we perceive things.
Whatever the reason may be, I would say, if you live in Udaipur then you must visit the “Bougain Villaea Gallery” before visiting any other gallery in other cities. The standards that this gallery has set are world class.
We will always cherish the sparkling conversation we had with Mr. Bhupesh Kavadia. Sir, we salute you for the work you did not only for our city but also for our country. We hope to see you soon in future achieving great heights with your work.
Leaving you with a glimpse of what Bougain Villaea has to offer. We bid you adieu. Hope your journey there be a bliss.
You can visit the gallery at:
Bougain Villaea Gallery
280, Rani Road, Fatehsagar Lake,
Tel: +91-294-2431116, 2431117
Photo Credits: Siddharth Nagar, Kashish Chandrayan