Ravinder Reddy’s sculpture is heraldic. Many of his sculptures are larger than life heads. Invariably, they look frontally through wide-open eyes, the characteristic attitude of one who proclaims. None of the sculptures looks sideways, or over the shoulder. The one who predicts may draw material from the past, but he has only the future to address. And the message, or prediction, that is about to be announced can be read from sculpture to sculpture in the gold emblazoning, or the searing red which covers the head, or in the complex hair-dos on the female heads, all of which are emblematic designs.
In his search for forms that could satisfy his sculptor’s instincts, Reddy goes back to earlier periods of civilization – the Egyptian, and the early Greek – where conventions of extreme simplification and frontality prevailed. This bold backward step is to me a kind of confirmation of the authenticity of the herald role.
A convention is a given, a predictable way of doing something. When it becomes an end in itself it is arid. When married to deeper needs, like the projection of a shared philosophy, it can enable a work of art. The conventionalizing impulse in Reddy is vigorous, though for other needs. I will hazard a wild interpretation. It is the silenced voice of Indian sculpture, which was one of the greatest the world has seen, trying to address a possible, future renewal. However, there is a further element in Reddy’s sculpture that keeps the convention from becoming arid. It is the repeated outbreak of sensuality. Even where the subject may not be overtly sexual, the sensuality colours and modifies the convention, infusing it with irregularity, mischief, and all such-like good things. The sensuality is serene, in most instances the sexual impulse does not speak of excitement, but of fulfillment.
Sculpture is a welling upward of a world of images from the flat and even surface in which they were earlier concealed. The sculptor merely unveils them, or so it would seem. This sense of apparent effortlessness goes hand in hand with the emotional and structural informality of Reddy’s latest works.