Born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Vibhor specialized in Industrial Design from the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. Given his diverse interests, he engaged in a wide range of creative projects in the areas of exhibition, graphic, retail and product design, for top global brands. One of his prominent works is the 40 feet high creation in steel, ‘SPROUTS’, installed in the 6 acres of greens which lies between the flyovers at AIIMS crossing, Delhi.
He has recently executed a 35 feet high installation, ‘Kalpavriksha – the wish-fulfilling tree’ in Ahmedabad. It is perhaps India’s second largest & Gujarat’s tallest public art installation. Sited in an upcoming development in Ahmedabad called ‘Arvind Uplands’, it is installed in a 100 ft diameter roundabout. The stunning landscape and the overall flavor of the serene, flowing greens served as the source of inspiration for this installation.
Crafted in stainless steel balls that are mirror-finished, the installation is conceived as an abstraction of a tree format. Envisioned as life that is constantly changing with the environment, the installation is enlivened by its audience and transforms itself with changes in the environment.
In conversation with Features Editor Suhana Bhatia installation artist and designer, Vibhor Sogani talks about his work, his inspiration and his journey ahead.
I loved playing with forms and materials as a child. While travelling with my father for his work, I was witness to a diversity of landscapes. Mainstream education was imperative but it did not appeal to me in its entirety. Thus, I was curious to explore new things which, perhaps, added to my creativity. After graduating from high school in Jaipur, I consulted a career counselor and gave an aptitude test. I was told that I could do well in the design field since my 3D visualization was good, and that marked the beginning of my design journey.
In the world of art and installations, who has been your inspiration? Your favourite artists?
I admire the works of many designers –Anish Kapoor, Zaha Hadid and Richard Senna to name a few. Their works represent powerful ideas in a simplistic manner, that I appreciate the most.
What was the thought behind SPROUTS and KALPAVRIKSH? – 2 of your most talked about installations
Sprouts was one of the most ambiguous and challenging briefs I have ever received. It was more than 10 years ago when the then CM of Delhi gave me six words to work on – ‘From a walled city to a world city’. The Sprouts project was initiated with the idea ‘when the seeds begin to sprout’, to show India as a growing nation. I worked closely with Jindal Steel, who sponsored the installation, and hence, Stainless Steel was used as a new age material representing contemporary thought.
Kalpavriksh is a sacred tree in Vedic, Jain and Buddhist beliefs. It is a mystic symbol that grants every wish of man and provides for all human needs. The installation is a modern interpretation of its form, reflective of the stunning landscape and myriad moods of the weather. It represents the harmonious relationship and memories between nature and man.
What kind of metal/material do you use? Why did you choose it?
I like working with a variety of metals like Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Brass, Glass etc. I am fascinated by all metals but I connect with steel in a personal vein. The complexity of crafting steel throws up unique challenges because it requires the intelligent amalgamation of new technology and hand skills. Various technological tools that can be used to innovate on its look and feel, its range of textures, finishes and reflections draw me towards the material.
Where do you visualize yourself in the coming years?
I see myself engaging in more public art installations, and diversifying the domain of product design, but my plans are as fluidic as my designs. I enjoy engaging with student community and my peers, which always refreshes my thoughts. I am constantly involved in re-inventing my style and the scope of my practice- the challenges that come along the way keep me interested.
What would you like to say to students who are passionate about art, but don’t know whether they should pursue it as a career?
Art is unlike other fields, as it does not provide alternate routes or shortcuts to reach a career destination in lesser time. One has to go through years of grinding and efforts of finding self-expression, there is no other way. Therefore, I feel that most of all, students need to be patient and accepting of the struggle. Art is explosive in nature- It is interpretative, illustrative and empathetic. As a career, it isn’t the effort of a single person, but a collective effort of a society to achieve the ideals that it strives for. Having said that, students should look around, observe the culture and expose themselves to everything in the society and the world at large. If they find value in it, then art will prove to be a very fulfilling career.