Mumbai-based artist Valay Shende life size works represent objects and situations around us. The ease with which Shende uses symbols within everyday Indian identities – from trucks, buffalos and tiffin-carriers to Buddha, Marx, grenades and scooters – to address issues in society, lends a unique perspective to identification across cultures and languages.
Valay’s sculptures stand out by their sheer weight both in physical nd metaphoric sense. Bhaiya Indian, a six-foot copper-plated fibre glass sculpture of a security guard, is a case in point. The natural bearing of the protagonist takes a curious twist when the uiewer recognizes that he has not two but eight arms! While the predictable rifle is held passiuely in one of the hands, others carry the burden of an iron box, a stethoscope, a tea kettle, a dead fish and a mason’s plastering implement. More surprises are in store: the guard’s spinal cord is exposed in the rear, with a set of mouing wheels and gears attached to it, this would make the arms moue when connected to an electric point. The whole set up is natural as it is intriguing. The message too is loud and clear, particularly when one sees that the watchman is bare saue for the slender underwear wrapped around his waist and a sturdy uniform cap dangling on his head.
Transit is a 2010 sculpture by Mumbai-based artist Valay Shende depicting a life-size work truck that carries figures of 22 people. Created over a period of 18 months, the piece was constructed from thousands of reflective stainless steel disks that have been individually spot welded together. Shende conceived of Transit as commentary on a dramatic rash of farmer sucides in India over the last decade. The truck’s rearview mirrors display video footage of roadways in London, Mumbai and Dubai, as if the vehicle is moving from the perspective of the driver’s seat but in reality it remains stationary. Transit is currently on view at the Mumbai City Museum.