Chander Parkash, who hails from a remote village in Udhampur district of Jammu province, did his BFA in sculpture from Jammu University. For a considerable time, he kept himself pre-occupied with such themes as the never-ending struggle of the common people for the barest necessities of life, the miserable plight of pavement dwellers, and the indignities inflicted on women. But the conviction that human faith and self-respect can survive the worst disasters inflicted by nature or man brought to Parkash’s creative vision element of myth and legend. To achieve this he uses a variety of materials like wood, stone, cement, Iron, Terracotta, and Fiberglass etc.
But there is always a tight control over the medium; he does not allow himself to be carried away by their distinctive properties. His rural background bestows upon him an innocence which may not be recognized at first glance, but which reveals itself gradually to the viewers. His creative process which remains meditative throughout, suggests that he is out to enjoy life in all its variety, though that delight is overpowered by his deep concern about human relationship. His figures, submerged in their latent pathos, suggest his nostalgia for the days when warmth and intimacy enriched human life.
Generations of artists who have extracted their subject-matter from everyday life have given us new insights into the human condition. The do-it-yourself anti-art movement has fallen by the wayside. While information technology has put all demarcation under threat, it cannot force us to close your eyes to the reality around us.
No matter how small and seemingly insignificant they may be, facts are incontrovertible. In a perpetually changing scenario, these may appear but briefly, on the horizon and yet have an imprint on the inquisitive mind deep enough to re-kindle our faith in art.
The sentiment of isolation is reflected in a number of works even though the figures are placed in groups. Whisper is one such sculpture where in spite of the delightful smile on the face of the women, there is a strong lack of communication between the two. A horizontal bar pierces the head in an unexpected manner. In the work called The Bus, the seated figurines, devoid of face make us aware of the fact that we have lost our identity. The suggestion of motion has been deliberately avoided to enhance the inner stillness in the souls of the passengers. Despite the slight gestures of a few in the group, the overall effect is that of unbroken calm.
Even while anchoring upon the most intimate relationship of a couple, the nightmare of everyday realities haunts Parkash, as we observe in the work called Honeymoon, two sleeping figures are placed on a very fine carved wooden cube with a grilled window at the head. The heads of the couple are painted in different colors-the male, brown and the female, white. From the neck down the two forms are covered by a heavy block of wood, carved and roughly textured. The cube on which these figures rest, has also been covered here and there with dabs of bright paint. But the most intriguing element in the sculpture in the lamp-like form which hangs over the heads of the sleepers as if to disturb their slumber. Does it suggest a nightmare still to come or one hovering over their subconscious? In a kindred work, Sleeping People, a group lies motionless under a presumed street light. Interestingly the dark half of the lampshade hangs ominously over the frail human beings sleeping under it. The figures are sprawled uncomfortably on an old, roughly carved slab of wood. The feeling of disturbed solitude is also reflected in works like Two Tire A/c, in which a thin elongated figure hangs horizontally from the upper bar of a heavy wooden frame.
Modern times seem to be entangled in the monstrous jungle of science and technology. Moving from the tranquility of a Jammu village to the pandemonium of metropolitan city life, Chander Parkash feels the shock and weaves a poetic veil of myths and legends around himself. One may ask whether allegories and parables have any relevance to our troubled time. Whatever our response to that question, the fact remains that man’s quest for some form of spiritual solace remains unappeased.
RAC.shows a king and queen lying by side on the upper berth of a night train. The lamp placed slightly askew at the feel is suggestive of fading light. The artist has more to say in sculptures like Migration in which a dignified head is perched on a partially carved, slender timber scant with floral motifs carved here and there. This is pierced on one side by a twisted metal arrow. From the other emerge a number of fish-like-forms poised to float into the space beyond. This metamorphic movement is indicative not so much of decay as of optimism. Resemblances of the head to that of an ancient Egyptian king is more totemic than mythical.
Toy Seller, another work in the same category, is different only in that the fact has been carved out from the one woodblock itself. Using a piece of waste wood, curved, smooth surface of the mother log has been emphasized by the sculptor, by painting it brown-red. The only fabrication is the bracket on the side with small animated shapes hanging from it. The nostalgia of course, but intuitively poetic. Such preoccupation apart, Chander Parkash don’t hold back from making deft and pungent remarks on contemporary issues. Press Conferences, A two-piece sculpture in wood, depicts a person-obviously a politician speaking into a microphone. Although the execution is almost abstract, the exaggerated concave and convex features on the face of the figure clearly depict him as a down-to-earth hypocrite. He has been mouth-fed to speak.
Post-modernism has yet to create its tenets but Chander Parkash makes us aware of at least one,namely, that art must continue to flourish for its own sake, that the technical advancement does not hinder the creative process of an artist, and that there seem to be no end to what is possible with bits and pieces of old, decayed pieces of waste wood. His art dwells on a variety of diverse observation but the kind of sensitivity that he reveals creates a secure place for him among the younger generation of artists in the country.