Arun Yogiraj & Mysore University
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Arun Yogiraj & Mysore University

January 30, 2024

By Prof. C. Naganna

The year 2016 was the centenary year of the University of Mysore. The University was established in 1916. As the twenty-fourth Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University Prof. K.S. Rangappa galvanised everyone connected with the University and the centenary celebrations took place in a grand and befitting manner, spreading over one whole year (2015-16).

The newly-built School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) contributed its share in augmenting the grandeur of the centenary by unveiling a statue in its campus and the statue was called “Creation of Creations.” The sculptor was none other than Arun Yogiraj, who is winning accolades from all sides as the creator of Ram Lalla of Ayodhya.

Prof. Krishne Gowda, the Founder-Director of SPA, had been contemplating on a statue that should be a source of both creativity and inspiration for the students on a daily basis. Therefore he had been carrying in his pocket the picture of a statue sculpted by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), a Norwegian genius who was born in Norway.

Gustav Vigeland occupies a special position among Norwegian sculptures, both in the power of creative imagination and his productivity. He was also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize Medal. Gustav Vigeland was born to a family of craftsmen. The Vigeland Installation in Frogner Park of City of Oslo in Norway has made this sculpture immortal.

“Creation of Creations” statue installed in front of Mysore University’s School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Manasagangothri.

Prof. Krishne Gowda thought of Gustav Vigeland’s creation when the SPA building started to come up on the campus. Arun Yogiraj, who had done some noteworthy work which included Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar statue at Hardinge Circle, swam into Prof. Gowda’s ken. Arun at once accepted the assignment although he knew the enormous challenge the task posed.

Arun obtained a ciatite block of stone weighing around 26 tonnes and went on reducing it to 11 tonnes to obtain the final image. The first challenge, as he admitted, was to enter into the skin of an alien culture as he had not sculpted any nude statues until then. Moreover, the statue was of a larger-than-life-size.

Catching the expression of three persons, the father, the mother and the child, and also to grasp the perfect angle of their leaning against each other even as the child is stationing at the centre was another challenge (see statue picture). Since Arun was not used to sculpting nude images, he went through a lot of anatomy books and references. He even took the assistance of a male model. He fell back on his experience of so many years and started the work according to his scale. He worked at the rate of 12 hours per day and took 3-4 months, being assisted by 4-5 artisans as well.

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The cyst or ciatite material he has used as the medium is water-proof, acid-proof, rust-proof and it is also fire-proof. Iron melts at 1200°C; but this stone remains unaffected at that temperature, says Arun. He further says that the statue could survive for nearly a thousand years. In a lighter vein, even if the statue survives for 300 to 400 years, none of us will be there to argue with him.

The original work by Gustav Vigeland was part of a 20-year project and long years of patient work, chisel and file has all the rigour and immaculateness of the ideal vision with nothing left to add or subtract.

Base is also an integral part of the work. As the block expresses weight and stability, bodily substance has enhanced the sculptural significance. The reciprocal relationship between inner and outer, mass and void, remains even. Concave and convex surfaces, curved contours and cut out forms, set off sharply against the surrounding space. Formal concentration, characteristic of kernel sculpture, is quite palpable.

The figures are static and still and there is no diminution of solid volume. Symmetry of simple proportions is quite discernible. The man and woman are carefully balanced against each other, while the massive forms occupy static volume in space. Their relationship to one another in space has been carefully calculated. Equilibrium is at work. Stone acquires a breathing that is quite warm and vital. There is no commotion of any kind — but only calmness.

The then Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University Prof. K.S. Rangappa seen felicitating sculptor Arun Yogiraj as Founder-Director of SPA Prof. Krishne Gowda (extreme right) and Prof. C. Naganna, former Director of Prasaranga, look on.

The couple has forged a baby from the smithy of their soul, which is the quintessence of all creation. The solid block not only constitutes formal postulate; it is also intended as an expression of the primeval. The motionless human figures are both naturalistic and abstract. The compact hard volume is a “means of rejuvenation,” the way back to human origins. The union of the man and the woman in the rectangular block is a union without any tension.

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The heaviness of the stone and the tenderness of the subject, symbolise the ‘primitive’ form and the graceful composition. This ‘Magna Couple’ is an embodiment of fullness of life and the mystery of generation. The well-rounded warm shapes of the bodies are maternal and paternal fertility itself. They are not specific couple but the archaic idea of conjugality engaged in the act of procreation. The weight and thickness of the material, which is firm and immovable, attests quite clearly to the permanence of the spiritual act. The interlocking human bodies are designed to convey human vitality. As with great works of art no one interpretation exhausts the variety of  possible meanings.

The School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) is an architectural complex rather than a single building. Therefore, the statue under consideration belongs to the realm of public art, as a monument. There is nothing wrong in incorporating sculpture into an architectural setting. It is commonly done in western countries. The architect and the sculpture begin to ripe for one another.

Full credit must go to Prof. Krishne Gowda, the then Director of SPA for roping in sculptor Arun Yogiraj for this task, who completed the same within the deadline. The sculpture was inaugurated on Dec. 2, 2016.

I am sure those who visit the Mysore University campus and the School of Planning and Architecture would make it a point to have a look at this monumental sculpture, which is aptly called the “Creation of Creations.”

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