SOLLAGE: GREEN AT HE‘ ART’

Jayant Shid­haye. The name might not ring a bell. But his ar­tis­ti­cally cu­rated ‘Sollage’ is cre­at­ing quite a buzz. He is prob­a­bly the only artist in the world who has used sil­i­con chips to cre­ate in­tri­cate works of art. In a tête-à-tête with So­ci­ety, Jayan

Society - - PRIVILEGED INFORMATION - | By ANAGHA KHARE|

It was not easy catch­ing up with Jayant Shid­haye. De­spite be­ing hap­pily re­tired from his work life, this man has too many pas­sions to pur­sue to be found so eas­ily. Af­ter his long va­cay in the US, the date was fi­nalised. And we met. His mod­est house in Hy­der­abad was brim­ming with art and creativ­ity. Clearly, this man saw beauty in ev­ery­thing. The ar­ti­facts in his taste­fully dec­o­rated home told me he was an avid traveller. The wall art was spec­tac­u­lar. How­ever, it was the rus­tic bow and ar­row that caught my fancy. “Oh, those I picked up in Bas­tar, Orissa when I had gone there to in­stall so­lar-pow­ered lights. The tribal people had them and I thought they would be great pieces to own,” says Jayant as he steps for­ward to greet me. A cheer­ful man dressed in smart ca­su­als, he looks super fit for his age. I am told he is in his early seven­ties but his face re­fuses to show signs of age­ing. Per­haps that’s what hap­pens to people who have a pas­sion to rein­vent them­selves. What fol­lows next is a won­der­ful rev­e­la­tion of what a person can achieve if he poured his heart and soul into some­thing. Why the name ‘Sollage’? I ask. As if he was ex­pect­ing just that, he’s quick to re­ply. “Sollage is ex­tremely close to my heart. It’s not easy to cre­ate art­works from these asym­met­ri­cal sil­i­con chips you know. De­spite the lim­ited colour pal­ette, the hues fas­ci­nated me. I did a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion be­fore I knew ex­actly what to do with them. I had prac­ti­cally poured my heart and soul into it. Be­sides, it was a col­lage of all the won­der­ful sight­ings I have had dur­ing my travel. Sollage there­fore seemed most ap­pro­pri­ate.” I can­not help but no­tice the un­mis­tak­able glint in his eyes as he speaks about his baby. The man who spent most of his time in the com­plex world of so­lar elec­tric­ity and re­new­able en­ergy, saw creativ­ity in ev­ery­thing around him. The sil­i­con chips ob­vi­ously were adding to the al­ready in­creas­ing toxic waste that called for strin­gent dis­posal meth­ods. In­stead of end­ing up in waste dis­posal plants, they had se­cured cov­eted spa­ces in the liv­ing rooms of the rich and the fa­mous. Jayant de­cided to use these wafer-thin sliv­ers of sil­i­con to trans­form them into sheer works of art. As we speak, he takes me to an ad­ja­cent room that is now his stu­dio. The room is brim­ming with large and small frames, and yet an­other one ready to take form—a work-in-progress that is clearly set to outdo its pre­de­ces­sors. “What’s in­ter­est­ing is that the sil­i­con wafers that are usu­ally blue tend to change colours when treated in the fur­nace. These changed colours cre­ate unique pat­terns. The so­lar cell in­dus­try uses round-shaped wafers. If you break them, you get ab­so­lutely ran­dom shapes

and sizes. I have dis­cov­ered my art in their ran­dom­ness and al­ways tell people that it’s an ac­ci­den­tal art,” Jayant says with a hearty laugh. His love for his art is ev­i­dent, but where does the inspiration come from, I won­der. “My art is of­ten in­spired by sub­jects that have touched me the most. Be­ing an as­tute ob­server, ex­pres­sions of joy, el­e­ments of na­ture and land­scapes dom­i­nate my art and are a re­flec­tion of my own ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing my travel,” he re­veals. I look at him in awe be­cause every time he speaks about his art, he goes into a trance al­most as if a new de­tail just caught his eye. The nos­tal­gia is strong. He con­tin­ues, “Can you be­lieve I have no for­mal train­ing in paint­ing, sculpt­ing or for that mat­ter any other form of art? I have never ever held a brush in my en­tire life. Yet I was in­vited by the B S Ban­dekar Col­lege of Fine Art, Sawant­wadi which is af­fil­i­ated to Sir J J School of Art, Mumbai to guide and train stu­dents dur­ing a week-long work­shop. I grew up in Dom­bivli which was very dif­fer­ent than what it is to­day. What made things worse was that my mother was a teacher, but I was never re­ally in­ter­ested in stud­ies. Grow­ing up, I never thought I would make my mother proud some day. Af­ter a se­ries of jobs that al­lowed me to hone my en­gi­neer­ing skills, I formed a com­pany called Re­new­able En­ergy Sys­tems Pvt Ltd with four other equally tal­ented part­ners. This com­pany went on to be­come a Lim­ited Com­pany in just a few years. My com­pany had more than 300 fe­male work­ers. In fact, I had urged ev­ery­one to think of putting this sil­i­con waste to good use. Per­haps em­bed it into ta­pes­try or some­thing so that they could shine the way mir­rors do. We keep talk­ing about

go­ing green you know, and this was my way of show­ing my love for the en­vi­ron­ment.” Sollage is unique and it’s im­pos­si­ble to re­pro­duce or re­print the art­work since no two chips are alike and they can never be dyed or trans­formed. It takes labou­ri­ous hours to per­fect an art­work and endless pa­tience to watch these pieces come to­gether to form a mean­ing­ful piece of art. Given the ir­reg­u­lar na­ture of sil­i­con ma­te­rial, these chips are hand­picked to com­ple­ment the sub­ject he chooses. He points to a wooden can­vas and says, “I ex­per­i­ment a lot with frames and back­grounds too. They play an equally im­por­tant role in en­hanc­ing the aes­thet­ics. While mak­ing this one, I saw shapes of leaves in the sil­i­con wafers and de­cided to cre­ate in­ter­est­ing fo­liage. How­ever, I some­times use them to cre­ate an in­tri­cate pat­tern that looks more like mod­ern art, what with the de­mand for that kind of art in­creas­ing by the day.” Sollage has been show­cased in Ger­many too as part of an event ded­i­cated to re­new­able en­ergy. But it’s not the com­mer­cial as­pect Jayant is lured to. He has him­self lived the high life in the chic and iconic Ju­bilee Hills lo­cales. So, this artist is not hun­gry for praise or money. De­spite a size­able num­ber of buy­ers from for­eign coun­tries seek­ing his art, money is not what drives him. What he needs is gen­uine in­ter­est and people who can un­der­stand the pain and labour that goes into the mak­ing of each frame. “While a small frame takes at least a week, the more elab­o­rate ones can take a few months. It all de­pends on the theme and de­tail­ing. A huge credit goes to my wife too be­cause every time a bizarre idea strikes me, she al­lows me to creep into my shell to nurse my idio­syn­cra­sies,” says he as his wife walks in, just in time to hear those lovely words. “I like classy, flaw­less work. Me­di­ocrity scares me. I try to in­fuse fresh­ness into each one,” he adds. Sollage it­self is in­no­va­tive and has tremen­dous po­ten­tial for artists. Be­ing the torch­bearer, Jayant is cru­sad­ing to push Sollage into the fore­front. “I don’t want it to die you know. Due to var­i­ous events, ex­hi­bi­tions and the me­dia cov­er­age I get for my work, en­thu­si­as­tic par­ents ap­proach me from time to time to con­duct work­shops for their kids. I have trained all those who have shown in­ter­est but I am not look­ing for mere hob­by­ists. I am look­ing for people with gen­uine pas­sion who can give Sollage the place it right­fully de­serves. Come Diwali and Eid, people watch the same culi­nary shows again and again for the same recipes. But art like this does not get its due. I don’t want this art to die with me…” he clears his throat and I can feel the angst of this earnest artist. Jayant’s body of work is too large for his medium frame. But he con­tin­ues at­tain­ing new creative highs frame af­ter frame with élan. Sollage is in­tri­cate, but the fi­nesse with which Jayant cre­ates it makes it an ab­so­lute must-have for your liv­ing room. It takes a con­nois­seur to fathom the ef­fort, ex­cel­lence, and ef­fect of his art. If you are one, don’t for­get to visit his web­site. I wish him luck and leave with a Sollage minia­ture au­to­graphed by the man him­self.

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