Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Recently,I went to an exhibition of glass sculptures by Adi Unwala displayed at the Cymroza Art Gallery. The subjects of the brilliantly made sculptures were mostly centred around flora and fauna. Flowers,birds,fishes,penguins,etc. Adi Unwalla,79, is in real terms not a professional sculptor.Though from his young days he took a lot of interest in sketching, painting and sculpting,he studied different techniques of forming of glass only after retirement from his foundry business.He considers himself very lucky that he got the opportunity to work under some world-famous artists.
Adi Unwalla's empathy with nature is outstanding and absolute.His love for nature is profound. His creations throb with energy.He breathes life into glass with his painstaking and risky efforts to make them as perfect as possible.He has burnt himself several times in the process. You feel a sense of tranquility when you closely observe his creations and get lost in their beauty.They are soul-stirring and spiritually elevating.
I was so fascinated with his work that I called him and expressed a desire to meet this outstanding person.He agreed to see me at the Cymroza Art Gallery.I was dumbstruck at the simplicity and humility of Adi Unwalla. He sought no publicity.In fact he is wary of reporters.He did not want to talk about his work.His work had to do the talk. However, after some prodding he explained to me how he got interested in glass sculpting."I was visiting New York about 15 years ago on some personal work and happened to visit a glass studio.The work appealed to me.I immediately enrolled myself as a student and learnt the art of glass sculpting.Since then I go to USA atleast once every year,learn more techniques and also teach to aspiring students. And that gives me immense satisfaction".
He has no commercial interest and his overriding love is for the very art that he is pursuing.Now, he does his work at home. He showed me the scars on his hands left behind from the many burns that this risky work entails. But that does not deter him in any way.His passion for the art is overwhelming.When i asked him what factor would he attribute to his unbelievable glass sculptures,he said it was simple." I would start the work and then it would go on with the intervention of an 'invisible hand' till it got completed". Call it what you might-talent,gift or what have you.It was the divine intervention that kept him going. He cannot be laid down by such trivial things, as burns. He just shrugs off his pain and when I ask him whether I can take his picture and some pictures of his work he agrees without any hesitation.I was pleased to see him with a few issues of "Dignity Dialogue", a monthly magazine for senior citizens being published by Dignity Foundation.
The sculptures made with great precision vie with one another for your undivided attention.Be it penguins mating happily or a dolphin leaping out of clear water or a Mahatma Gandhi walking sagaciously with his trademark stick or a ballet dancer dancing with gay abandon or a fish among corals or a ship used for commerce(dhow), Adi Unwalla's labour of love is written all over. An unique exhibition of talent and gift by an unique person who transforms a basic substance like glass into a thing of beauty. And a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.