Nataraj Sharma’s ‘CONSTRUCT’, is a comment on the mammoth scale of construction that is sweeping across metropolises all over India, in recent years. A still life and landscape, the building rebounds Sharma’s wit and gravitas as well as his sensitivity towards the fraught relationships between urbanization, the environment and the human presence. And, at perhaps, a more metaphysical level, of what is enduring and what is ephemeral. Sharma says, “Over the last 20 years when I have been visiting Gurgaon, I have witnessed its extraordinary transformation from parched agricultural land into a geometric jungle of urgent, vertical growth.” During this period, and certainly more so in recent years, the artist photographed and drew sketches of large construction projects, especially those still in process. “I found a particular poignancy in half built buildings,” explains Sharma. From these images, Sharma focused on the exposed skeleton of the building, the strong grid within the structure of these buildings that reveals the logic of their construction, repeating it vertically (almost endlessly). The grid has long fascinated Sharma as a visual and structural device but with this work the artist states, “I also recognized that the grid has multiple meanings – it's a tool for planning, structuring and defining volume. It works as a skin on the surface of the object. The grid by its nature is perfect and precise. The purity of a grid line, like the light of a laser, carries an emotive load. It can also imprison.” For ‘Construct’, Sharma singled out photographs of a particular building, selecting from these images of one section. He then worked with an architecture student to approximate from these images a plan of the section. This was followed by a wooden model, of the ground and first floors, that was translated later into iron. “This work is also made in multiple units, which allows for many variations in its final form. ‘Construct’ demanded as large a scale as possible – I needed the sense of being dwarfed by this tower,” said Sharma. “At the same time detail and veracity was also important – of fragile grills, staircases, balconies – the texture of unplastered walls that made one come closer and realize that it is you who is the larger. This push and pull of scale was exciting” Ever since Nataraj Sharma witnessed an airshow in Vadodara in 2004, where the Surya Kiran, an aerobatics demonstration team of the Indian Airforce swooped the skies, displaying their skills, he has been "mesmerized by these machines of destruction. The grace with which they flew through the air and the terrifying noise they produced gripped me. Beauty and violence, play and aggression were revealed before our eyes. It was a very profound experience for me, noting their beauty while being intensely aware of the terrible destruction that these machines are capable of." "Shortly after, Sharma made an oil painting on canvas titled 'Air Show'. "After I completed the painting, I felt compelled to transfer this work into three-dimension. While I was working on 'Air Show', I was also doing a series of landscapes and aerial views using the grid format. Something about the wonderful structure that visual grids provide, a form on which the interpretation can be expressed, attracts me. Grids also provide a sort of rhythm to the work. Often the grid seems at odds with what it contains, a foil against the unpredictability of nature," said Sharma. "Urban life is also based on a grid, one that is rigid and inflexible." As seen here, planes fly through the grid in a smooth, graceful line, not the pristine red and white of the Surya Kirans though: the artist has rendered them rawer and organic in surface decay. "The works are very manual, earthy and labour intensive, they are not very high-tech and this is the Indian reality that I wanted to reflect. The rust is a natural element of the artwork - that is, as long as it stays on the surface-level," says Sharma. "Once these units, made of mild steel, have been fabricated, they are sandblasted and that removes all the rust. They are spray painted with automotive varnish and this protects it from moisture so it lasts for generations," says Sharma. To begin with all the planes were carved in wood, then these were sand-cast into single pieces of aluminium and from that multiple planes were cast in stainless steel in Baroda. Interestingly, the work is not located in a particular city although it presents the contemporary experience of India. "It is not specifically Mumbai or Baroda, though the experience came from Baroda. I would say that the impact of the work is much wider," said Sharma. The work also has a timeless quality and could be applicable to any time in history since it talks about the eternal duality of terror and beauty, the awareness of which intensifies the experience. Summing up, Sharma said, "The work doesn't take a judgemental or moralistic position, it is ambiguous. Where I am positioning this work depends on the mindset of the viewer. One can see it as either a critique or in praise of something. There, is no singular view point.