Valay’s recent works are in subtle ways his attempts to question the maladies afflicting urban society and humans today. He is a keen and sensitive observer of his surroundings and concerned about the common man’s trial and tribulations of day-to-day life.
Valay feels an artist owes a responsibility to the society and firmly believes an ideal world can be re-created. He wishes the audience to reflect upon the social issues plaguing man today.
Valay primarily creates video works and sculptural installations. His observations and feelings set off the production of his work and hence determine the choice of media. His works demonstrate his technical deftness and ability to transform a thought into a work of art.
Valay Shende is quite a contrast to the life-size sculptural installations he creates. If the Nagpur-born artist is shy to a fault, his works are forceful and intensely articulate. Sensitively thought-out and superbly crafted, they bring out the essence of the artist’s vision of what is right and what is not.
Through skillfully rendered objects, profiles and symbols they put across his ideas and concerns about the present day, religion ridden society.
Valay’s sculptures stand out by their sheer weight both in physical and metaphoric sense. Bhaiya Indian, a six-foot copper-plated fibre glass sculpture of a security guard, is a case in point. The natural bearing of the protagonist takes a curious twist when the viewer recognizes that he has not two but eight arms!
While the predictable rifle is held passively in one of the hands, others carry the burden of an iron box, a stethoscope, a tea kettle, a dead fish and a mason’s plastering implement. More surprises are in store: the guard’s spinal cord is exposed in the rear, with a set of moving wheels and gears attached to it; this would make the arms move when connected to an electric point. The whole set up is natural as it is intriguing.
The message too is loud and clear, particularly when one sees that the watchman is bare save for the slender underwear wrapped around his waist and a sturdy uniform cap dangling on his head.
Valay completed his BFA in Sculpture from Sir J J School of Art in 2004, and participated in an artist residency programme at Point Ephemere in Paris. Among others, he has exhibited in Havana Biennale,‘Bombay Maximum City’ at Lille 3000, and ‘Made by Indians’ at St Tropez Beach in France.
The 26-year old Mumbai based sculptor admits that the deeply sinful nature of the world and everyday vagaries of city life affect him and get reflected in his work.
He obviously feels that the middle path propounded by Buddha is the right solution to our troubled times.
Buddha features in two of his works prominently. The first one bears the title The Holy Father and shows a ninety-four inch marble fiberglass statue of the Enlightened One astride a speeding stallion.
The calm face of the strider contrasts with the severely dynamic animal whose front legs are high up in the air. The sparkling white sculpture not only brings out the energetic nuances of the subject but also the handiness of the sculptor.
Buddha Right, Marx Wrong is yet another forceful work in which Valay’s skill, craftsmanship and contemplation find expression. It is a two-piece exhibit – one featuring a car and other, the statue of Buddha who is trying to stop it from moving further. The car itself is a brilliant construct with dozens of metal logos of multinational companies embossed on its outer cover.
The seat, made of foam and covered by rexin has currencies of several nations imprinted on it. The car is pierced with red, communist symbols i.e. sickle and hammer and the tall, gold plated Buddha stands with a calm face but a clearly remonstrative pose.
Valay’s dexterity and proficiency come through in other pieces as well. ‘Dead’ is a mirror/glass/goat fur/ fiberglass sculpture coated with copper and patina making a striking commentary on different religions and their failure to lift the life and spirit of common man. In another work, Valay shows religious symbols lying scattered and in shambles even as an icon of sorrow sits on them with sadistic pleasure.
Gun of Counter Revolution shows a firearm with two barrels in opposite directions subtly suggesting that the killer too can get killed when the trigger is pulled; the embossed metal discs showing religious symbols on the nickel plated image adds its own silent story as to how the victor can become the victim in a split second.