Monday, July 3, 2017

A Chiseled Life - A Rendezvous with Sculptor Yethin N (Featured Artist)

In a very chaotic and stressful world such as ours, it is ART (in any form) that provides the much desired sustenance for the soul. When one peels away the layers of the art, at the core we have - the sentiments, thoughts, vision, experiences, skill and knowledge of the artist. It is this that flows through the art, letting us perceive and experience the world from a different perspective. Further this translates to mean (on a more macro level), connecting with others who share the same interest and vision. But on a more personal and micro level it means, enriching and connecting with oneself in ways which words cannot describe. I have never had the opportunity to showcase a “sculptor” on the TECD platform. So when the occasion presented itself, I was not going to pass it up! More so because, it involved hand sculpted brass statues, that are so close to my heart and form an essential part of my global-desi style décor.
Our sculptor in the spotlight is, Yethin N., a Bengaluru based 6th generation artist. His label, “Loha Arts and Crafts” specializes in handcrafted South Indian style deities. Yethin is adept at different styles of sculpting namely - the Hoysala style, the Chola style and the Mysore style and works with an assortment of metals such as bronze, copper and silver (silver being his favorite). Recently, Yethin has also branched out to cater to the demands of the market for traditional brass décor such as lamps, bells, wall hangings, etc. I’m so excited to get this interview rolling. So without further ado, let’s begin our rendezvous with this talented young artist shall we?

TECD: Hello Yethin! So thrilled to have you here on TECD. What was the thought process behind selecting the brand name? 
Yethin: “Loha, translates to mean ‘metal alloy’ in my regional language. As my work predominantly involves creating bronze idols, which is an alloy of three different metals, I found it appropriate to zero in on Loha. I haven't narrowed down the name to mean only bronze because I intend to expand on the supply of art with different media as well, hence 'arts and crafts' came into the picture as well.”

TECD: Tell us more about your foray into the world of sculpting?
“I come from a family of traditional sculptors. However, I never intended on following that path. Infact, I was a student of Law and have professionally taken up sculpting for the past three years. When time permitted, I would visit my father or uncle's workshop and observe them at work. The more time I spent there, I gradually discovered that sculpting came naturally to me. There was a flow to it all and it did not involve much effort from my end. As for the technical expertise on the subject of sculpting, all the knowledge, guidance and experience came from my family.”

TECD: What would you say is the essence of your brand?
“90% of the statues or idols which are available in the market or retail stores are duplicates (pirated). They just cast the Idol and sell it.
Each and every Idol that comes out of “our” studio is handcrafted in the traditional fashion. My idols are anatomically more precise and also aesthetically pleasing with extreme focus on attention to detail. When it comes to idols or deities, each and every mudra (hand posture) and weapons they hold, the way they stand or sit, everything has a meaning. Everything is documented in our Shastras (ancient texts) and also described in various mantras and slokas glorifying the deity. Sculpting the idols with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the same, sets me apart from the rest who treat this precious art form as an extension of another industrial setup or mundane job.”

TECD: Do tell us more about the in-depth traditional design process involved in creating these magnificent idols?
“The design process that is used has been passed on through generations. First we draw out a rough sketch of the deity or design. Next step is to craft the wax model or clay model using traditional methods. Third step is to take a mold of it and send it to the foundry for casting. After it comes back from the foundry, we use our tools (hammer and chisel) to carve out the intricate designs such as ornaments, designs and other features. It is a tedious process which requires lot of skill, experience and most of all patience.”
TECD: What would you say is the source of your inspiration?
“Most of my works are inspired from my grandfather's masterpieces. He is a national award winning craftsman. His masterpieces are displayed at the Rajeev Gandhi Art Museum (Delhi). Also, the temples situated in Mysore, South India have excellent sculptures which I adore and draw inspiration from.”

TECD: Your collection has a very strong South Indian influence. How important is it for you, that your designs showcase your roots?
“Yes, my creations have a strong Indian influence. To me, Art is a medium through which we have the opportunity to showcase our culture and tradition. With this thought in mind, it is very important that my designs showcase my roots and culture because that is what makes it unique. If my designs have a western or European influence, the essence is lost.”

TECD: What is your take on abstract forms of sculpture?
Yethin: “With a traditional background in arts such as mine, my affinity is naturally towards traditional arts and craftsmanship. I’m not personally fond of pseudo artists who just throw paint on the canvas or sculpt a stick figure and call it art. I need more form and substance, for something to be termed as art.”

TECD: Do you see yourself digressing from creating spiritual deities and if so what would you like to try?
“Sculpting is a dying art form. Even though a lot of people are taking up fine arts, not many are interested in traditional arts. They are drawn towards visual arts and other media. My own parents do not want me to be a sculptor. I feel it’s my duty to carry forward this traditional art form through to the next gen. So I don't see myself deviating away from my roots of creating traditional deities. Even if I try something new or different, it will definitely have the flavor of my original art form.”

TECD: Any WIP projects that you are excited about and would like to share with us?
Yethin: “Right now I'm working on a project for an Ashram in Tamil Nadu. Excited about creating 10 idols for them including Sharada Devi, Vaarahi, Maatangi, Sri Chakra, Nandi, Swan, etc.”

TECD: Where can prospective clients purchase your work?
Yethin: “As of now I do not own an exclusive outlet or retail store. I supply to the various stores in Bangalore and other cities. Majority of the work I do includes customized designs in which case, I directly work with the client. Currently working on expanding to an online market place which will also make my work available to international clientele. Lot of people buy artifacts from the nearest store without knowing the origins of the Idol. I want to introduce people to the original art and draw them to buy original handmade and handcrafted idols rather than buying duplicate ones.”

The biggest challenge that artists like Yethin face in today’s day and age is that duplicate idols and sculptures are available in the market at 1/3rd the price. But one must remember, if you compromise on the pricing, you are also compromising on the quality. I strongly urge you to buy genuine art and where possible, connect directly with the artists themselves. This way the experience of adding meaningful treasures to your private sanctuary takes on a whole new meaning - There is an instantaneous emotional connection with the object of your desire.

Readers who wish to follow and see more of Yethin’s work, please head to his Instagram gallery. You could also write to him at for  special commission projects, pricing and other product enquiries.

Thank you Yethin for sharing with us about your magnificent journey as a sculptor. We wish you the very best for your creative venture! (FYI: I’d also like to thank Pavan a fellow brass lover and reader of TECD for introducing me to Yethin’s work. If it wasn’t for him, this feature would not have been possible!)

(Image Credit/Copyright: Loha Arts & Crafts - Yethin N. The images may not be used without the prior written consent of the artist and TECD).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting The East Coast Desi. I'd love to hear from you.