Pandurangaiah Daroz is to Indian pottery what M. F. Hussain is to Indian art. His ceramic installations are massive — large murals for hotels or office lobbies, huge abstracts and massive facades. But Daroz also revels in small pots, vases, bowls, plates and tiles. As an art critic put it, “Daroz’s ceramic images address and dramatise the dilemma of form over function, as he utilizes the sheer materiality of clay along with his ease of skill and technique to create works of complete virtuosity.” Daroz’s pieces are virile, muscular and full of spunk.
My family have been ardent Daroz fans for over 25 years now. His large Grecian urns have adorned our homes for years. And a 20-years old salad platter is my Aunt’s favourite for star guests who visit our home.
You were born in a family of goldsmiths. How come you chose to become a potter?
I was born in a rural Andhra Pradesh in Jillela, a tiny village about 100 kms from Hyderabad. My father, a goldsmith, would craft masterpieces from the precious metal.
My father, one year when I was still very young, displayed his immense goldsmithery skills in shaping Ganeshas of clay at the annual Ganesh Chaturthu (as it is called in our parts). I too played around with the clay and loved its touch and feel. I decided not to join the family business, and instead headed to Hyderabad to join art school in 1961.
Tell us about the golden days you spent in Baroda?
I started my formal innings in M.S. University, Baroda from 1970-72. I enhanced my knowledge through interaction with the reputed potter Jyotsna Bhatt. She guided me with all she had learnt over the years. Baroda those days was very exclusive for artists to start; we had excellent teachers like the legendary K G Subramanyan who was there to teach us at any time of the day.
People know you as the Hussain of pottery. How did it all start?
This is all the love of art collectors and critics who have supported me at every step and made my shows successful; and it is all thanks to them that my pieces fly faster than hot pancakes at my shows. It is the enduring spirit of collectors who believe pottery is as serious as paintings. I am glad that my works have laid the foundation in India and made people convinced that the value of pottery also increases as much as paintings.
In potter circles you are known for your bold and innovative techniques/finishes. What’s your take on this?
My studies, then my stay in Baroda taught me innovation and experimentation. I have over the decades tried different glazes and myriad finishes. I have played around with ‘faults’ and made them ‘fabulous’!
Years back, I also experimented with fine porcelain and during an art residency in China, I created a line called Luminous Excavations.
You have done countless murals all over the country. Which is your favorite?
I have done commissioned works which include famous pillar series and freestanding doorway structures and the large warriors’ pots. The scope of making a dramatic artistic statement is unlimited as the size of the canvas is vast. I admire all my works, for me all are my masterpieces.
What do your mammoth size urns signify?
Since last many centuries urns have played an important part in preserving our heritage in every possible form. Historically speaking every civilization had its urns which reflected the cultural and traditional understanding of that era.
Funerary urns have been used by many civilizations. After death, corpses are cremated, and the ashes are collected and put in an urn. Urns store those moments of time which we want to pass on to next generation.
My urns represent depth, experience, custom, culture and tradition of our existence.
Why is pottery and pottery prices so underleveraged?
Art collectors in India who see art as investment prefer buying paintings as they seemingly appreciate more. But today, even ceramics are doing well if you go by the returns on investment.
What do you think about the works of Ray Meeker and BR Pandit.
Ray Meeker and BR Pandit are two great masters of pottery. They are like the old geniuses of Indian ceramics. They have done some very magnificent works in past and I personally like Ray Meeker’s works as he keeps testing himself and coming up with something out of the box constantly even at his age.
(Mukul Rai Bahadur is an art lover, collector and critic. He lives in Mumbai and works in a media company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pictures courtesy: The Kailasham Trust