Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nek Chand and the Garden of Chandigarh

Its a big world full of really strange things. Here is another, The Rock garden at Chandigarh. This is one of those strange personal constructions that some crackpot built on his own year after year. It grew and grew as he added to it daily until it was an enormous and idiosyncratic creation, touched with madness. I have an inkling of what it must be like to do that.

Nek Chand a public works employee in Chandigarh, India began secretly building a rock garden in his spare time from recycled industrial and household waste. Begun in 1957 in a ravine area designated as a nature preserve. The garden had grown to cover twelve acres before it was discovered by city officials in 1975.

The Site was saved from destruction by public opinion and Nek Chand was given a salary and fifty workmen to continue the project. The rock garden now covers forty acres and sees thousands of visitors a day.

There is an English foundation that raises money to preserve the garden and continue it's creation.

The rock garden is a series of courtyards and sculpture gardens built of cement and filled with cement sculpture covered in broken pottery.

This little guy is wearing a suit made of broken crockery.

Some of these sculptures look a little nightmarish to me, but maybe that's a cultural difference. There is a personal mythology of some kind going on here that needs herds of critters to explain itself. There is an obsessiveness in the multiples of figures that seems to come out in outsider art. Not just strange stuff, but LOTS of it.

Do you remember horror vacui? Here are some fine examples. It seems to be a characteristic of primitive and outsider art.


Brady said...

Looks like it would be a cool place to go for a walk. said...

Oh, darn, India...too bad. When I saw it, I thought it was some place outside of Charleston. I keep hoping my husband will do something like that, minus the figures, in the back yard. Saturday ; Charleston here I come.

Deb, I've painted with a broken can probably figure out a way to paint if your fingers are working and there is no pain. I taped paper towels onto the cast so I could wipe off my pallet knife and brushes.

Innominate colors..they are in my work too, believe it or not. I find it helps if I actually describe what I am saying out loud " reddish purplish limey green". It really helps me mix the color. Words are powerful.

Knitting Out Loud said...

Wow, Stape, this is amazing folk art (when did it become outsider art? or is that different? does folk art not exist anymore?). And what a story. He worked on it eighteen years before the government one noticed?

I just checked this website
and the story is even more amazing.

Philip Koch said...

A good story. It reminds us the impulse to create bubbles up in everyone. Sometimes some of the most interesting results occur far from the usual suspects in "the art world" of galleries, art schools, and museums

In my city I sometimes see spray painted graffiti that is extremely sensitive and original- more so than many oil paintings by "official" artists.

Durinda Cheek, Fine Artist said...

Very cool! Reminds me of Howard Finster's place in Georgia. As a teacher I have to give our definition now of folk art: made by local people to be more decorative and functional like pottery, furniture, and weathervanes. It is passed down in generations and keeps a regional appeal. Outsider art is used to describe work created by self-taught artists. They find their own means of self-expression usually with found objects. Of course Picasso was the original found object sculptor but he couldn't be described as Outsider, now could he?

John D. Wooldridge said...

Looks like an awesome place! I have a project or two like this swimming around in the dark recesses of my brain...

billspaintingmn said...

Almost sounds like a future Disney cartoon, but I think Nek Chand was
doing the trip!
Whenever someone takes an idea and works it into being I marvel. The fact the government paid him, and gave him workmen to help is a positive thing.
I wouldn't say he was mad, I think he was just being useful! (Genius)

Barbara said...

I'm glad to know about this, and if I make it to India, which I'd like, I'll try to visit. California, which is sometimes noted for madness, has at least a couple of examples of this art form: Watts Towers and Nit Wit Ridge.

Unknown said...

As another example of outsider art, there's also Salvation Mountain in Niland, California. Though personally I don't think it has the aesthetics the Garden of Chandigarh (or Nit Wit Ridge) have. It is still a monumental feat for one artist.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will walk better when I get my new government feet.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The figures are weird. I like the walls and waterfalls though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That struck me as mysterious too. I bet someone dimed him out.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have seen real creative graffiti, but I think it still messes the world up.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks for the excellent definition.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Smash the plates you got at your wedding and buy a bag of cement. The first step of a long journey is
( forget how that goes)

Stapleton Kearns said...

That seemed like a good solution. It must bring in a lot of cash.Probably more than the 50 workers earn.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have to look up nit-wit ridge.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Watts towers has, I think, the best aesthetics of any of these.