Anjani Khanna

I remember, as a child of 6 or 7, watching a village potter throw terracotta cups off a hand spun potters’ wheel. I remember fearfully crouching over the wheel, while his fingers guided mine. I remember listening to stories about the gods and of the struggle for India’s freedom. Myth and memory merged in my mother’s telling and with each retelling they became a part of my everyday acquaintance. I remember watching my mother pray in front of her small shrine in our home, and adorn the baby Krishna idol with jewellery, clothes and flowers. I remember traveling across rural India as an environmental journalist, discovering my land as a young adult.

These memories and the constant confrontation with contradiction, which is a part of everyday living in India, have an influence on my work. While the written word and ideas fascinate me, clay allows me to explore subliminal and oftentimes not easily articulated intuitions in a tactile and visual way. My “yalis”, as I refer to my figurative sculpture, begin to live for me and tell their stories in their living. Their stories reflect my search as they grapple with the modern and the ancient, the personal and the universal, the male and the female, the east and the west, the spiritual and the profane, the rational and the intuitive, the animal and the human, the religious and the secular, and the political and the nonpartisan.

My large figures with stylized human bodies and animal heads are made in paper clay. Patterns are sponged on much like a traditional textile block printer. I enjoy “dressing up” the yalis with garlands, mirrors, and ornaments used on cattle.