One of the most interesting personalities among artists, Davierwalla started life as a professional chemist, a career that his family wished him to pursue. However Davierwalla wrote that “every moment of my time outside factory hours was devoted to reading, listening to music and drawing.” (A.M. Davierwalla quoted in E. Alkazi, A. M. Davierwalla, Art Heritage, New Delhi, 1979) Even whilst at school Davierwalla produced small wood carvings with a pen-knife. Unsurprisingly, when Davierwalla started his artistic career, he turned to wood as a medium – an ancient traditional material of India. It was not until 1961 that Davierwalla gave up his day job entirely to devote himself to his sculpture. Davierwalla very much allowed his medium to dictate his creations. Using modelling, carving and assemblage in metal and wood he produced geometrical forms that explored the tension between two points. The sculptor was inevitably influenced by Joseph Epstein and Henry Moore as were a number of other artists during the post war period.
Closer to home, N. G. Pansare helped him master the techniques of his craft, and Sadanand Bakre (see lot 28) paved the way for modernist sculpture in India. It might be poignant to compare Davierwalla with Sadanand Bakre. Davierwalla’s quiet manner, much like Bakre’s, hardly suggested by his modest facade, the greatness of his work, and like Bakre, was amongst the most modern exponents of the art of image making in India. Following in Sadanand Bakre’s footsteps, Davierwalla made his debut as a professional sculptor with one-man show at the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1956. Davierwalla discussing his work later in life stated ‘I have revealed the universal loneliness of man, his eternal doubts, man at the cross-roads, the eternal questions “Who am I? Where must I go from here? What is life? What is death?” (ibid.)
Its emphasis on line and gesture, Entwined Figures with its delicately flowing lines, its two floating figures as it were, within the tubular limits of a single block of wood, is a powerful depiction that fully evokes the tenderness and devotion that Davierwalla is able to imbue the work with. Alkazi sums up Davierwalla’s figurative pieces as, 'The figurative pieces already suggest an instinctive understanding of anatomical stylisation – of trying to separate the components of a human figure and then proceeding to emphasise their essential role through exaggeration, distortion and harmonious synchronisation. With experience, spurred on by trial and error, Davierwalla probed deeper along these lines and responded with the secret language of geometry of gravitational pulls, of the dynamic counterpoint between mass and space.' (ibid. p. 1)
Entwined Figures is the first documented sculpture that Davierwalla created, and catalogued in his 1979 retrospective held at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay. One might say that Davierwalla’s sculpture and his career has been a voyage of discovery of sorts, especially the international exposure as a Rockefeller Scholar in 1968, a journey that resulted in subsequent bodies of work in marble and metal. It was during this time he spent in the west that he fully appreciated the great sculptors of the time such as Alexander Archipenko, Jean Arp, Constanin Brancusi etc. Interestingly, Davierwalla’s westernised aesthetic shines through in Entwined Figures done in 1948, bearing superficial likenesses to some of Archipenko’s or Barbara Hepworth’s work which he actually came in contact with only many years later during the time he spent in the west as a Rockefeller Scholar. Summing up Davierwalla’s career, Alkazi says, 'Whatever he had achieved over a period of three decades was done against immense odds, including a straight-jacketed education, and a job that he pursued unwillingly. He had wanted to be an artist all along and he was driven on by determination bordering on a missionary sense of purpose.' (E. Alkazi, A. M. Davierwalla, Art Heritage, New Delhi, 1979, Preface)
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