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Laxma Goud--Earth Goddesses.

"It's the tool that is important," says Laxma Goud, printmaker extraordinary who discovered ceramics at a much later point in his artistic quest. "I've been working in ceramics for the last 12 to 13 years," he explains. "Any medium that I pick I need to seduce it to my immediate need. It does not matter if it's a metal plate that I am etching, a sheet of paper, or clay. I love the idea of clay, the earth, the soil on which I was born."

GOUD REFLECTS ON HOW INEVITABLE IT was that he turned finally to clay. It was while working on a series of small heads in clay to be cast in bronze that he found that he could transform the material into facsimiles of the earthy men and women who peopled his tenebrous tree-filled landscapes and often resembled village deities. In these, there is the same sensuality that made his early prints so disturbing. The original clay heads were exquisite. The sharpness of the line from nose, ridged lips and chin, the flat planes of the cheekbones, the detailing of the whorled hair, earrings, necklaces and caste marks had a precision that was sometimes lost in the more refined bronze casts that were made from them.

"What I learnt from Manida (K.G. Subramanyan), my teacher, was to discover how we had worked in the past, the artisanism, the importance of the craft that has been there in the hands of the humblest of potters. Look at the work of our potters; you will always find that each one of them has a distinctive touch or feel that he brings to his work." He describes an episode in the life of the great sculptor Rodin meeting the dancer Isadora Duncan. "Knowing him, she was ready for anything when she went and asked him to do a model of herself. He went all over her with his hands, squeezing her until he felt he could make a new Isadora, an Isadora by Rodin!" Goud ends his story triumphandy. "Unless you feel the material, squeeze it to make it breathe under your hands, you will get nothing out of it."

Goud's repertoire in terracotta and ceramic runs a whole gamut of forms and objects. There are wall panels, or flat plates, incised with lines in the clay, or embellished with moulded forms of plants, heads, ribbed and tubular textures. The cross-hatching that Goud used in his etchings now becomes more prominent in clay. He uses some of the oldest techniques, whether by chance or otherwise, that were seen in the clay models that appeared in tablets of our ancient civilizations. His village women morph into earth goddesses with massive headdresses, earrings, neckplates and breastplates. There are mixed media painted masks, glazed heads and spouted water carriers. Sometimes, Goud has his creations glazed and fired to a coloured patina that transforms them.

As in the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Laxma Goud sits in the middle of his creations both a little surprised and elated at what he has set free with his artisanal imagination.

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

Caption: 1 and 2. Details from Untitled, Laxma Goud, 2012. Terracotta; 41.9(h) x 4i.g(w) x 10.1(d) cm each.

Caption: 3. Untitled, Laxma Goud, 2006. Terracotta; 228.6(h) x 223.5(w) x 20.3(d) cm.

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Author:Doctor, Geeta
Publication:Marg, A Magazine of the Arts
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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