"And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;" -- Lord Tennyson (Lady of Shallot)
Oops my glass slippers! Cinderella must have exclaimed to herself when she hurried out from the ballroom.... and Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shallot’ was cursed.... the glass mirror which hanged before her, reflected the shadows of the living breathing world outside. Carol’s Alice might have opened the doors of the Wonderland with the glass keys.....how fascinating... !& there was a pink cake inside that glass box. I still remember that little crystal piano..., i couldn’t buy it....i saw it in a big showroom at Bronx..I had no money with me then. That little wonder emitted rainbows in front of my eyes. Glass is brittle but still it never hides the other side, we can see through a glass pane, even if it cracks, it will never hide.
I was always fascinated by this character of glass. Like a child....transparent. I love mirrors. Sometimes i imagine myself inside a room full of mirrors, how will it feel to see multiple selves at a time...the different facets of my personality, some hidden corner within my psyche. Someone said “Art is coming face to face with oneself”....how true! I kept gazing at the delicate crystal piano, observed its detail.....it was magnificent! . There was a silence and a distance between the two of us. The rainbows, the labyrinth of colourful transparency, a sheer poetry in glass, as if I was visualising a fairy tale in the middle of a busy street. While browsing through the internet i stumbled upon the Masters of Kosta Boda.
I had no idea that even glassworks like a painting or a well-written book can symbolize the innermost desires and storms within a human mind, our struggle our limitations, our inner voyage of discovery.. I had a strong feeling that if I hold the small blue glass head between the palms of my hand lift it up and look at it I can see myself looking at me. For a moment I came face to face with myself.....
What was it? Was it beauty? Was it an experience? As if i hold my soul in my hand? A moment of revelation? Maybe....i suddenly discovered myself the way i was ten years back....a corpse of my past. ‘Strange.....’ I murmured.
Vallien’s works remind me of those famous lines of my favourite poet T S Eliot, “Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act falls the shadow….life is very long. Then I learned that he is one of those few talented glass-artists who enjoy worldwide fame. According to his website Vallien adopted this industrial technique of Sand casted glass which is basically used in metal casting, he developed it and explored its endless possibilities by generating cycles of themes and motifs.
Among all his works, this particular work in Purple-Blue reminds me of ‘Double Bind’, a psychoanalytical term, in which the subject at the receiving end experiences annihilating effects due to an emotionally upsetting dilemma, when he receives two or more conflicting messages in which one message rejects the other, and when both are of equal importance. The double bind creates a deadlock in which the individual is unable to sort out the priority between the two, and as a result cannot resolve it or come out of this suffocating situation.
Now that was something really different from what i have seen before. His handling of glass is astounding. Depicting this type of psychological aspect through glass, when glass is generally used for show pieces and crockery is a bold and successful attempt. I felt a kind of spiritual leaning in his ‘Resting Heads’. A kind of ‘no-attachment’..... a sense of abandonment, separation, or a kind of death. A ‘lost’ feeling….,a feeling of accepting life without a power to resist, of accepting life the way it comes.
Here he blends technique and philosophy. His search for a fusion of light and form materializes in the’ human head’ which was a perfect medium for the interpretation of his realization. This light-absorbing property of glass acts as a film or membrane, allowing our imagination into the spaces within. In the head, he has shaped his own space -space for thought, wherein that mystical light conveys something that is beyond this material world…abstract, or where the infusion of a face may suggest thoughts and reflections about others. When I took a close look at it I noticed a crack as thin as hair, I guess Vallien deliberately added this crack, the face under a misty layer reminds me of Mirza Ghalib’s “Ab khushi hai na koi dard rulane wala,humne apna liya har rang zamanewala.....” There is a quest for a mysterious light – something ethereal, something elusive.