Offbeat sculptor Prithpal Singh Ladi returns to Delhi


New Delhi : Contemporary sculptor Prithpal Singh Ladi, who has created waves with his futuristic stone monuments, steel dragonflies and frog torsos, is coming to the capital with his first solo show in 10 years on Oct 15.

Support TwoCircles

Born in Shillong in 1955, Ladi studied sculpture at the M.S. University in Baroda. He was conferred the National Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) Award and the Gujarat LKA awards and won a scholarship to Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. He later taught at the School for Architecture, Ahmedabad, and the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi.

The show, presented by Gallery Threshold, will feature sculptures in gemstones, glass, metal and other materials.

The works of 53-year-old Ladi exhibit his penchant for the eccentric and the bizarre. They reflect his constant struggle to reflect his personal life – his lone sibling suffers from Alzeihmer’s disease and his family shuttles between Munich and Shillong. “For nearly 10 years, everything that I loved was put on hold because I had to take care of the family,” he told IANS on phone from Shillong.

Almost all his works – which have a slight autobiographical tinge – is a tribute to the suffering of a family member. But his imaginative use of new materials redeems the works from being a personal indulgence.

Through intricately detailed dragonflies with thin delicate wings and frog torsos, mechanical devices like an antique typewriter, animals made of old battery cells crudely joined together and limp human figures in postures of obeisance, Ladi imbues his shapes with a morbid humour that connects to the viewer.

At times, his dragonflies look like giant fairies and at others they look like hideous creatures from outer space. “When I started creating my recent body of works two-and-a- half years ago, I did not plan to show them. They were meant for my 10-year-old son who lives in Munich with my wife. She is a German Kathak dancer,” he said.

Ladi’s works have an element of affluence and glitter about them. Take his series “Jewel Insects” for instance. Large dragonflies made of glass, gemstones and metal make a reference to his childhood years spent in Shillong. “I have also used the butterflies of Cherrapunji as a reference,” he said.

The sculpture “Replotted” in fibre glass, in which a bemused man tries to hold down a fossilised butterfly that had almost escaped him, is a throwback to his days of carefree childhood in Shillong.

In another sculpture titled “Muskan” after his son, Ladi has used an antique typewriter to create what he calls a “jungle story” for the child. “I was trying to revisit my childhood through my son. Just like a child, I learn every day to resurrect dead material that is no longer of any use,” he said.

Shards of whiskey bottles, broken tube-lights, fused bulbs, old chandeliers and scraps of old trophies find their way into his work. “Sometimes I get carried away,” he says.

He also uses his works to comment about the state of judiciary and courts in the country. “Our property is mired in litigations. It creeps into my work,” he says.