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The Waste Maker June 13, 2015

Publication: The Indian Express

Artists and writers remember Nek Chand as a pioneer and dreamer, who transformed waste into art.
ek Chand, the creator of the iconic Rock Garden in Chandigarh, passed away on Friday at 90. Artists and writers remember him as a pioneer and dreamer, who transformed waste into art
Diwan Manna
Photographer and Chairperson, Chandigarh, Lalit Kala Akademi
Nek Chand and the Rock Garden have both fascinated me for the sheer genius they exude. I have known Nek Chand since 1986, and I will always cherish conversations with him, filled with humour and stories of Chandigarh, as it was being developed. Coming from Pakistan to the city, Nek Chand had a zeal and commitment that was synonymous to the generation which saw Partition, and built life from scratch. I have interviewed him for a three-hour video for the archives of the Akademi, and I hope we can screen the work at his memorial. I have always wanted to make a film on the Rock Garden. I consider Nek Chand one of the pioneers of new media art in the country. H e was a simple man with his own style and a sharp intellect, who loved food and life.
Ved Prakash Mehta
Author, Rock Garden, and former civil servant
A few months ago, I wrote Rock Garden as a tribute to my friend and creator Nek Chand. I was witness to his genius. He began his career as a road supervisor. He had a creative edge, with which he transformed waste to artistic creations. I saw the garden being created brick by brick. We talked about his early childhood days and his love for creating earthen dolls, mud figures of animals and birds. He created the sculptures and objects made of stones collected from the Kaushalya river, where he also found broken idols, which he carried on his cycle carrier. A closer look at the stones used in the collections in Phase One, will reveal that these are broken images of temple structures which were destroyed by foreign invaders in medieval times and were thrown into the river. I feel he deserves more admiration and accolades from the Administration.
Pooja Sood
Director, Khoj Studios
It is an absolute loss. He was a pioneer in understanding space; the way he used waste material, years before it became fashionable. I lived in Chandigarh for almost eight years, and used to visit the Rock Garden often. It is a beautiful tourist spot, and from what I know Nek Chand was at his studio working, almost every day. Theatre director Neelam Man Singh, who has staged performances at the garden, has told me that even the acoustics of the place are fantastic; he understood that well.


Atul Dodiya
Artist
I never met him, but the Rock Garden is remarkable public art and his demise is a great loss. The fact that he could conceive thisgarden with so many sculptures — with materials such as ceramics and crockery to create human forms — at such a scale might be more imaginable to an artist today, but back then for him to have done it, is absolutely brilliant. His understanding of scale and form is admirable. Unfortunately, we don’t have such public spaces in India any more.
-Anjolie Ela Menon Artist
About 20 years ago, an expert from an American museum came to India to assess the state of contemporary Indian art. To everyone’s surprise she declared that the only Indian artist who could be termed truly contemporary (as distinct from modern) was Nek Chand. This maverick was so ahead of his time, dealing with retrieved junk, creating large-scale installations and incorporating thrift, satire, humour and even the bizarre into his very unique repertoire. A great loss to Indian art. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/the-waste-maker/2/#sthash.QUbAdvHg.dpuf
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