Being a practicing landscape architect first and then an architect, I am always occupied by the ideas of infiniteness ; not in a non measurable ambiguous way, but a rather specific flow of time and energy that sometimes moves slowly and at other times rushes headlong, where nothing ever ends. And yet catching the moment of time and marking it with the clarity of ambiguity is important . One may well ask what does that mean ? Since it seems contradictory . The only way I can explain it is to draw the reader’s attention to a cloudy sky with the sun that hides behind it; its felt, we know its there, but we don’t see it. And yet we know clearly that its there, even know exactly where it is in the sky at the specific moment.
Udaan is a project that is etched clearly on the ground and against the sky. There is something definitive and precise about its being . And yet the landscape changes, its resident birds and animals change, the stone walls age, and the people who inhabit it transform. It seems to have found a moment in time , and then like a wind vane flutters and moves with the passage of it.
When good prose is written, it can often be made even more powerful by placing the right punctuations.They can change meanings and the way the words can sound. The house and the garden taken together construct a wholesome piece of writing , and what seemed complete seems to get better articulated, its meanings better told, new meanings added by the art that slowly occupies it.
Anujs (Poddar) flying man who stays suspended and yet in perennial flight and Walter s( D’souza) copper spiral in the dining space is a tumultuous squiggle that seems to suggest some event of conception, and along with the giant red love seat, are read against the stone from the terrace and the fields below ; both of which made their appearance even as the house was being built. Many years later Darozs ceramic works precisely dotted the entrance.
Udaan , every few years seems to be caught in a restless mood and a work of art is invoked to appease the spirits. Jacques work was long in imagining and conversation , and then almost in a heady rush over a matter of a few weeks three installations appeared, settling in spaces that seemed to be waiting for them.
The large brick installation , along the bridge on the terrace of the library was always a space marked for someone’s presence. Some earlier ideas were debated and abandoned.So when Jacques suggested the location, I was filled with anticipation about what he would propose. The choice of material and the manner in which it was expressed surprised me pleasantly . The fact that he chose two objects, led to a certain spatiality, not just in the manner in which they marked the void on the terrace, but also in the way it allowed space to leak and dart between them. The sculptures allow many viewings , along the bridge while arriving to or leaving the house, or from the lower gardens, and also while walking behind the theatre as one reaches the house and equally from the small terrace next to the kitchen. The choice of the two objects , the space between them and the changing proportions ; one tall and stately , the other squat and voluptuous afford kinetic and dynamic viewings that at all times are impacted by the space they sit within. The foreground is sometimes a canopy of trees, at others a filtered view, some from a sharp angle from the lower garden, and yet others close at the same level along the bridge ,but changing every so gently because of its slightly curved geometry . The background contrary to the foreground , is almost always neat slices of stone and the sky in varying proportions. Seen together these objects in space with the world swirling around , always seem calmly animated . It is almost as if new permanent spirits inhabit the terrace, and are willing to acknowledge the people who live in the house as they pass by , or just stand in the rain or gaze at the sky when no one is looking at them.
The public upper terraces of the house were located to capture the grand ever rolling views of the lower gardens, and the forests that seem infinite and the ever changing sky. This is the grand theatre. The small pond in a middle terrace was then a small interruption. a semi colon that just punctuated the narrative of the house on the hill and its relation with the borrowed and constructed nature. The many fish that swim in it and the birds that darted along and in it must have for long also wanted to be part of this conversation. Almost like holding up placards of Gods Jacques has given them a voice. The thousand little ceramic God heads now sway, either nodding to the wind or moved by the turbulence of life in the liquid. Suddenly the terrace and the pond have found a vibrant voice , one that is noticed from a distance, but captivating in a rather hypnotic way when one is drawn closer as one now is inevitably tugged and pulled. That he chose an almost grass like structure to do so is delightful; the mirage is apparent. I can well imagine that an observer will ever so often be tricked into wondering why the blades of grass seem to glint of steel and how on a full moon night the white ceramic heads glisten like pearls floating above a giant drop of water. All in all , the water could be the sky , and the Gods above it could be peering at a world we gaze at and know so little of.
The third installation marks the stone wall between the living and the dining room. For long the stone walls have been admired , and thought almost sacrosanct.; the many hues of the stone, and their rough but yet precise joinery and undulations reflecting light and creating shadows in an eternal act. With careful pins without seemingly touching the stones, Jacques mounts hundreds of heads that seem to float away from the wall. It is not really clear what is meant to take precedence; the viewing of the heads, or the many sharp dotted shadows it creates, or when all seen together almost like a swarm of bees , an alphabet , a word , that resonates with time .This is an unsettling etching on the calm walls. Almost a rapid staccato of many emotions seem to be at play here; many readings, many short bursts of thoughts, held in a valley of calmness; the quiet wilderness on one side and the stoic stone on the other. It’s almost as if a flutter of emotions are intensely released but trapped and yet a planitive voice suggests peace and reminds us of the larger perimeter of the meanings of life.
Once again Udaan seems to have risen from its deceptive calm and marked a moment. The house, the garden , its people , will slowly and graciously make these works their own and in time they will start new conversations that they were not imagined capable of, nor intended. The journey of infinity will continue, and Jacques work will be important markers of it; they have added the punctuations that make the meaning of life clearer and more distilled. They have started conversations we did not know we could have. And they have given voice to those not heard.