Moudled to perfection

I've always wondered why ceramic art has not been promoted, or at least viewed with more respect. Its inability to outgrow the label of simply being moulded and fired clay, and therefore humbler than other glitzy crafts, has in my opinion, encouraged an indifferent attitude resulting in people losing out on the subliminal beauty that the medium can represent. Having said this, who today dare contest a medium anyway, especially amongst all we brand as "contemporary art", for categories of new materials like those found, recycled or even virtual have only recently entered art vernacular.

Considering the earliest forms of art were etched in stone or made of clay, we of course, do not do the ceramist or his medium justice. So, I made my way to see the solo exhibition of Hyderabad-based ceramic artist P.R. Daroz at Art Alive Gallery that coincidentally followed Pondicherry-based Ray Meeker's recent exhibit at Nature Morte. Daroz's show comprises the artist's more recent body of work, executed over the last four years. At first, there were guardians to greet me; a series of block figures standing on pop coloured wooden pedestals in a grouping of three. With bodies of shaded ceramic that revealed markings in thin verticals and bold diagnals, their faces shone in a goldish hue. A similar palette was used for all other works with a progressive departure toward glossiness.

All Daroz's murals are executed as mosaics in grids, some with Buddha-like faces and others wholly abstract. He plays off the sheer materiality of the medium: texturing, layering, sculpting and colouring. Daroz is a prolific sculptor, who has been commissioned by commercial offices and hotel groups to adorn their walls with decorative ceramic murals. Perhaps this is because his work is not loaded with political commentary, nor is provocative. It is secular, pleasant and simple.

As I walk through the last room of the exhibit, the metallic foil-like glazes shine at me, revealing the artifice of the surface. The crude clay was transformed for the benefit of its viewer and patron into a glossy, admirable material. Yet, it reveals a primal quality, like that of an excavated fossil, a historical relic for whom time and contemporaneity are not significant. It exists as it always has, moulded, tempered, glazed or unglazed.