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Ratilal Kansodaria : He sculpts reality to turn them into fantasy.

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Ratilal Kansodaria : He sculpts reality to turn them into fantasy.

Starting from a village and reaching to prominent art destinations, sculptor Ratilal Kansodaria’s life is an inspiring journey of ambition and hard-work. Free from any inhibition his sculptures walk on the thin line that divides reality and fantasy. While he is showcasing his latest work in bronze at Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery, we dive into the creative yatra of this effervescent artist.

“We are the richest people. We are born with the virtue of art.” – Ratilal Kansodaria

Curious jump, Flight of unencumbered mind, Everyday landing, Entity of sound, Fantasy ride with birds — these titles of Ratilal Kansodaria’s sculptures encapsulate the essence of the moment captured. The prolific sculptor, winner of numerous awards, including, the Gaurav Puraskar Award in 2009; The Bombay Art Society Awards of 1992, 1998, 2001; All India Fine Arts Academy Award in 1995; and Award of International Art Horizon in 1990, has his art installed at many places all over Gujarat. Johny ML, a prominent art critic summarizes his style by calling it  ‘deliberate’ and ‘filled with philosophical death’. Observing further, he comments: “The more one looks at his works, the more one realizes how he transforms the perceived realities into a fantastic reality, taking him to a wonderland where time and language assume surreal dimensions.”

Kansodaria’s Curious Jump, in bronze, 14 x 27.5 x 9.5 inches, 2018

Born in a village in Saurashtra — Prem Gadh, Jetpur, Kansodaria was raised in lush green surroundings, and the inspiration he drew from nature since the beginning, enhanced his eco-centric philosophy. This is visible in his works till the date. As a young child, Kansodaria was attracted by mud, stone, and wood as these materials formed the landscape of his family’s village farm. The ‘fascination for making articles with hand’, therefore, dates back to his early age. He fondly reminisces the village environment from his childhood that is filled with memories of bathing in river, climbing hillocks and trees, a period when life was free from rules. This have influenced his art as he constantly plays with the element of fantasy and concept of force and vigour. “My compositions play with me,” he shares, candidly.

Kansodaria, later surpassed many milestones in his artistic journey, and currently serves as the Principal of the prestigious Sheth CN School of Fine Arts in Ahmedabad. At present, Kansodaria is displaying his latest works, 18 bronze sculptures at Mumbai’s iconic Jehangir Art Gallery. The show is hosted by Aura Art and will be held between December 3-9, 2018.

A work titled Mischevious Ride in Bronze, 10.5 x 23 x 10 inches 

Art: His inheritance

In a tete-e-tete, Kansodaria fondly recollects how his mother Diwali Baa, who lived a full life till the age of 102, would make lion and parrot toys for him. She was also a vaidya (Ayurveda practitioner), a composer and a singer! Diwali Baa was also fabulous at embroidery – a master of stitches. Colours and composition are distinguishing features of Saurashtra embroidery. “And she (his mother) made it all the more beautiful,” reminisces Kansodaria who has perfected his art by ‘by doing’. Kansodaria gives lot of significance to practice in his artistic journey.

With inherited creativity and talent, Kansodaria began his artistic career and in no time started garnering admiring glances from village folks.

“My father wanted me to follow creative pursuits. He asked me to take utmost care while drawing. “Kansodaria, delightfully shares the words of wisdom he received from his father at an early age, “While drawing the subject should convey emotions. Shivaji should convey fierceness of war, God should evoke devotion.” Later in his life, while in MS University, he realised that what he is learning at the Faculty is already inculcated (in him) from the age of 6.

Then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi (currently Prime Minister of India) at Akha Bhagat no chowk in Ahmedabad

His parents influence doesn’t end here. Anyone who has been to Ahmedabad’s Heritage Walk must have seen Kansodaria’s work in the statue of Akha Bhagat and Kavi Dalpatram — the famous Gujarati poets from 17th and 18th century respectively. Kansodaria’s father was a poet and he naturally acquired the skill of appreciating poetry. His multi-talented mother would compose those poems and also lend her voice to them. Being so surrounded by aesthetics, it was inevitable for Kansodaria to be intensely creative himself. Besides being a poet, his father was also good at face reading. His father would analyse moustaches and assign work to employees based upon his reading. In fact, he had classified 65 different types of moustaches. Hard work and paying attention to details, that emanate from his art pieces, are his parents’ character attributes he has inherited.

The dive into fine arts

Eyeing financial security, like many students, Kansodaria too had opted for science initially, ignoring the pull he felt for Arts after reading about a course in Fine Arts in a magazine. After class 10, he went on to do PTC (Primary Teacher Training Course). But the strong urge ‘to create’, never left him and he eventually accepted that he has been destined to follow creative pursuit.

They say when you make up your mind, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Raghav Kaneria, a professor at MS University, lived in the same vicinity. When Kansodaria presented his works to Kaneria, he was immensely impressed, for Kansodaria had no professional training. The encounter sealed Kansodaria’s fate and he chose MS University, Baroda to pursue academics in the Faculty of Fine Arts

He secured loan from a relative, and enrolled for a course at MSU’s sculpting department in 1980. Kaneria, in no uncertain terms, had made it clear that there is no alternative to hard work here. Despite of grueling schedule, Kansodaria soon realized this was the place for him, On the very first day, I understood that one has to concentrate on work and does not get deviated,” he reflects.

Ratilal Kansodaria with Raghav Kaneria

Soon, professors and seniors started appreciating his work. And his appetite for learning was so intense that he began assisting his seniors. That anything that would help his seniors would also help him learn kept guiding his path. At MSU in Baroda, above everything, he was feeling lucky to see his Gurus working in their workshops right on the campus. “They were so enthusiastic,” he recalls, while sharing how wonderful it was to watch greats like KG Subramanyan in their studios.

“(An) artist has to find happiness from his own work and nowhere else.”

For Kansodaria, the workshop at MS University became his world. Nothing else interested him and he started being on the campus, nearly round-the-clock. This dedication soon started garnering results for him. His proximity with his illustrious teachers grew and with it his work evolved. Gradually his work emerged and became identifiable for its glorious rhythm.


At the age of 24 he had done much more than an average youth of his age would have. He successfully completed his Bacherlor of Arts, followed by Masters in Arts at MS University in Baroda. By this time he had already showcased his work at multiple shows. Eventually, fate brought him to his karma bhoomi, Sheth CN College of Fine Arts in Ahmedabad where he joined as a lecturer in sculpture department. About 12 years later, he elevated as the principal of Fine Arts College. Kansodaria credits the learnings at MS University and the experiences of rustic village life as the key elements for his success and fulfilment.

All of this was not without struggle. Kansodaria attributes much of his early success to his parents, friends, family, and community leaders who helped him immensely during his studies. MS University holds a special place in his heart. Today, as Principal of Sheth CN College of Fine Arts, he ensures that his students get similar exposure by way of interactions and workshops with master artists, which he frequently organises on campus.


Kansodaria’s art bears his unique stamp. His subjects are rooted in the milieu, and at the same time they display his artistic fearlessness. It is simplistic in form but complex and deep in its subject matter. Today Kansodaria is considered a sculptor of eminence, with bronze as the medium of his forte. An attribute of rare genius, in his work the physical strength and emotional intensity – both come together in a poetic harmony, lending surrealism to his otherwise real forms.

His show at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, features sculptures of imaginative and varying themes, all walking that thin line between reality and fantasy. The show has been inaugurated on December 3rd and it will be open till December 9, between 11 am to 7 pm.


Photographs Courtesy : Ratilal Kansodaria

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