Three gigantic 14-foot-high sculptures, part of a grand Gond art installation, claimed their space as the centre of attraction outside the Durbar Hall, a day before the grand opening of what some have called the Kumbh Mela of literature — the Zee Jaipur Literary Festival (ZJLF) . If volunteers and workers taking breaks from the final touches to the six venues at the Diggi Palace to click pictures with the sculptures are any indication, then these beauties who have travelled over 675 km from Ahmedabad are clearly going to be the selfie-magnets of the festival.

Metal sculptures depicting asuras at Diggi Palace
Suhit Kelkar
dna
Three gigantic 14-foot-high sculptures, part of a grand Gond art installation, claimed their space as the centre of attraction outside the Durbar Hall, a day before the grand opening of what some have called the Kumbh Mela of literature — the Zee Jaipur Literary Festival (ZJLF) . If volunteers and workers taking breaks from the final touches to the six venues at the Diggi Palace to click pictures with the sculptures are any indication, then these beauties who have travelled over 675 km from Ahmedabad are clearly going to be the selfie-magnets of the festival.”That’s what art should do. It shouldn’t remain a hands-off experience. I want people come pet, feel them and get the whole tactile experience which is such an integral part of sculpture,” Vyom Mehta, the amused sculptor told dna. “This year the art exhibition at ZJLF has Gond art as the theme. I’ve created seven asuras (demons).”Explaining the concept, the 29-year-old, who has worked with top sculptors in the US and Europe, added, “Unlike namby-pamby gods who run to higher gods for protection at the first sign of trouble, asuras always fascinated me from early childhood. Over the years as I’ve reflected on how they run after power, are preening all the time and acquire newer weaponry and arsenal, it dawned on me how alike us all they are. Through this installation I wanted to establish how in our ever-growing greed and hunger for more and more we have become monstrous demons devouring everything in sight,” he added. “I wanted to highlight what this has done to our tribals and the forests they live with.”When asked whether he doesn’t sees himself as part of this consumerist rush, he burst out laughing: “How can that be? I see myself as much an asura as everyone else. No wonder the sculptures are called Vyomasuras.”Meanwhile, in keeping with the ZJLF theme of ‘Royalty’, regal colours like fuschia, purple, royal pink and turquoise, adorn the venues. Designer couple Padmavati Singh of Royal Treasures who has been designing the ZJLF venues since its inception said, “Royalty and Rajasthan are almost synonymous, so it seems like a very easy theme to do but that’s exactly where the challenge was. We wanted to borrow from tradition and yet stray clear of clichés and stereotypes.”Her partner Vikramaditya added, “While everything is being designed to look resplendently royal we wanted the multiple languages, demographies and cultures to be refected too. The mix of colours in the awning fabrics, chair covers and the coloured glass in the backdrops helps.”Interestingly the wings on the golden chairs on stage at the Front Lawns are generating a huge buzz. “Its our way of doffing our hat to the wings of imagination that writers and poets represent.”

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Gond art may well be selfie-magnets at Kumbh Mela of lit