An Extraordinary Man Whose Hands Infuse Life In Legends

Sculptors are not just an ideal form of physical art, but it’s an embodiment of one’s soul in a similar physical structure. Breaking free from the concept of contemporary art, this person who shapes up emotions and smoothens the bridge of time is doing more than just practicing art. Meet Ram Vanji Sutar, an artist known all over the world for his eccentric realism poured into the divine figures of Indian legends. Practicing in this glorious profession since in last 60 years, he has been awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016 for his creations. 

Born on 19 February 1925, he grew up in the Gondur, in Dhulia district of , India with a poor economic background. It wouldn’t have been for Shriram Krishna Joshi who inspired him to join the Sir JJ School of Art in Bombay to take a swing at his artistic abilities. Paving the path to his talent, one of his first achievements was the Mayo Gold medal for modeling in 1953 during his Diploma in Sculpture. 

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Imagine at a time like his, when the support and recognition for academics overshadowed every other unconventional passion, he was not only moving ahead but turning pages of stereotypes. Joining the Department of Archaeology, South Western Circle, Aurangabad in 1954, where he restored the sculptures of the widely known Ellora and Ajanta Caves. As a Technical Assistant (Model) in the Department of Audio-Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi he continued his profession but then wanting to be an independent artist in the line, he retired in 1959. 

From , Europe, and Asian Countries, his artworks are placed in India as well as several global locations around the world. Working as a freelancer, his first triumph was when he designed the Chambal Symbolic monument at the Gandhi Sagar Dam, in Madhya Pradesh, India. Mesmerized by his talent, Jawaharlal Nehru himself approached him for a 50 feet high bronze sculptor at Bhakra Dam to celebrate the Triumph of Labor. But with his popular model of Mahatma Gandhi’s bust, which is placed in over 150 countries, he has also made a 21 feet high Equestrian statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which is installed in Amritsar. 

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“I would participate in his Swadeshi movements. During one such rally, I inadvertently wore an English cap and was moving towards Gandhiji. Another participant alerted me that Gandhiji would get angry if he saw my cap. I quickly took it off and threw it in the fire along with other ‘videshi’ items,” he remembered during a conversation with TOI.

With over 200 monumental sculptures in last sixty years, he has also designed the , the tallest statue of the world which is currently under construction in Gujarat. Today, the 93-year-old spends most of his time in his studio in Sector 63 and preaches some humor-filled mantras of ordinary life. “It’s yoga. He goes home in the evening and does yoga. In the morning, we organize a message for him. There is no restriction on food either,” he said when asked about his the secret behind his tireless passion. 

“I dreamt that I needed to be a sculptor. I just followed that dream,” he said. And with this saying, he broke the many chains of doubt that surrounds the aspirations of modern mentality. 

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