Man who created art from junk

Man who created art from junk

Padma Shri Nek Chand’s creation of sculptures from junk epitomised a fine blend of innovation and unorthodox artistic impressions that have an immeasurable creative quotient.

Nek Chand hailed from the Shakargarh region, now in Pakistan. He migrated to Chandigarh in 1950. The man who started his life as a government servant—he worked as a road inspector with the Public Works Department—earned international acclaim for his creation of the Rock Garden that today spans over 25 acres of land in Chandigarh, a city designed by French architect Le Corbusier.

Nek Chand’s demise comes days before the UK's Pallant House Gallery in West Sussex was to put on display as many as 40 rare figure mosaic sculptures from June 13 to October 25.

Inaugurated in 1976, the Rock Garden—built from waste and junk—today displays thousands of sculptures arrayed on slanting terraces, meandering pathways, arches and waterfalls. It receives thousands of footfalls each day.  One of its sculptures has also appeared on an Indian postage stamp.

Nek Chand's journey to discover the nonconformist artist in himself was not a cakewalk.
He use to look for junk and build his wonderland in the dark of night. It went on for over a decade. He also used to cycle to a government-owned forest where he use to spend the night clearing patches of ground, designing landscapes and shaping moulds that turned out to be creative artefacts made out of waste.

Chand picked up almost every piece of junk he saw—from washbasins to broken glass, bangles, electrical fittings and crockery. They became an essential part of his art.
He shaped them into faces, animals and a lot more. His creation of several hundred sculptures grew to cover several acres of land.

There came a time when the local authorities did not approve of his unique “environmental wonderland”, and even planned to demolish it when it was finally discovered in 1975. They claimed he had violated rules as nothing in the city could be built without a master plan.

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