Odisha’s moment of pride: Adwaita Gadanayak’s Netaji Statue assignment

As renowned Odisha sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak sets out to carve the 28-feet-high granite statute of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, people in his home state say Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen the right person for the job.

Adwaita Gadanayak says he and his team of 20-25 granite artists will go for a thorough study on Netaji before giving shape to his statue.

Celebrated sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak is brimming with excitement these days with the ‘tall task’ at hand. Gadanayak is busy giving shape to his dream project: a 28-feet granite statue of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. Come August 15, and the statue will be installed under the canopy of New Delhi’s India Gate. But before Independence Day arrives, Gadanayak has his hands full.

“Frankly, I feel like I am dreaming. It’s a great honour for me,” the soft-spoken Gadanayak, who is the director general of National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, tells The Federal over phone. “It’s indeed a huge challenge for me,” he adds with excitement palpable in his voice.

Gadanayak, a team worker, says he and team of 20-25 granite artists from the south will go for a thorough study on Netaji. “We will make the statue realistic,” the Odisha-born sculptor says. “Each detail will be carefully taken into account. From Netaji’s cap, glasses, trousers, shirt buttons to shoes, everything will be minutely observed and recreated in black jade granite.”

“To give shape to the statue, granite stones will be brought from Khamman (Telangana), or a place near Bengaluru,” he says. The NGMA had earlier sent a six-feet-high model of Netaji’s sculpture to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Work on the statue began after the Prime Minister’s approval.

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On January 23, marking Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary, PM Modi unveiled the hologram statue of the legendary freedom fighter at India Gate. Once completed, the grand statue, to be made by Gadanayak and his team, will replace the hologram statue.

The statue, Modi had said earlier, will be a fitting tribute to Bose’s immense contribution to the freedom struggle and would be a symbol of the country’s indebtedness to him.

“Granite is the hardest medium but we will be able to complete the job before deadline. Black colour represents energy-Maa Kali and Lord Jagannath (Krishna). Black jade granite suits Netaji’s strong character and his personality,” the ace sculptor, who won the Lalit Kala Akademi National Award for Sculpture in 1993 and the Scottish International Sculpture Award in 1996, says.

Artists Adwaita Gadanayak says from Netaji’s cap, glasses, trousers, shirt buttons to shoes, everything will be minutely observed and recreated in black jade granite.

A towering marble statue of King George V, created by the famous sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger, dressed in a flowing robe and complete with globus cruciger and sceptre, occupied the canopy till 1968. In the mid-1960s, the statue was shifted to Coronation Park in North Delhi. Incidentally, the park was the venue of three Delhi Durbars–in 1873, 1903 and 1911–drawing its name from the last one, the coronation of George V.

Back in Odisha, people are happy that a person from the state has been accorded the honour to create Netaji’s statue. To many, it’s a matter of pride for the state since Subhash Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack, Odisha’s commercial and cultural hub, and now an Odia artist is going to carve his statue. “We need to enjoy the moment. Not only he is a great sculptor, Gadanayak sir is also very down to earth,” Manas Das, a working professional in Bhubaneswar, said.

The artists are equally upbeat. “Odisha is a land of great art and architecture. Every sculptor of the state is happy over his (Gadanayak’s) prestigious assignment. It’s a dream project and such works will inspire young artists immensely,” says stone artist, Smitesh Mohapatra, grandson of late legendary sculptor, Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mohapatra.

Fifty-nine year old Gadanayak has come a long distance. Born and brought up in Neulapoi village of Dhenkanal district, he pursued his education in art from Bhubaneswar’s BK College of Arts and Crafts before getting a masters degree from College of Art in New Delhi. He also studied at London’ prestigious Slade College of Fine Arts in the mid-1990s. For many years, he headed the School of Sculpture at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT). The sculpture garden at this university, a creation of Gadanayak, is also considered one of his major works.

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“We all are delighted. Gadanayak ji has done great work in the past too. He was associated with us-KIIT and KISS-for over a decade. We have been, and are, with him. I congratulate him,” Dr Achyuta Samanta, founder of KIIT and KISS, said, adding, “We should be grateful to the Prime Minister for assigning the job to the right person.”

Famous for creating the ‘Dandi March’ sculpture which is installed at Rajghat in New Delhi, Gadanayak’s installations have not just been appreciated in India but in London too he has many admirers.

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