Over the years, Cube Gallery, in Moira, North Goa, has exhibited diverse art forms.
Previewing on March 3, 2023, Artcrete is an exhibition of installations and sculptures made using concrete, and is a bizarre but unavoidable odyssey undertaken by Cube Gallery’s owner and curator of the show, Sonny Singh, and his talented group of workers.
THE RISE OF CONCRETE
Cement and concrete are not the same. Concrete is a hardened building material, created by combining a chemically-inert mineral aggregate (usually sand, gravel or crushed stone, a binder (natural or synthetic cement), chemical additives and water.
The precursor to concrete was invented in about 1300 BC when Middle Eastern builders found that when they coated the outsides of their pounded-clay fortresses and home walls with a thin damp coating of burnt limestone, it reacted chemically with gases in the air to form a hard protective surface.
By 200 BC, the Romans successfully implemented it in the majority of their constructions.
An enterprising 19th century British stonemason, Joseph Aspdin, created the first form of modern concrete by combining hydraulic lime with powdered brick on his kitchen stove, pulverized the concoction into a fine powder, and combined this with powdered pebbles to create the first form of modern concrete.
Due to its inherent benefits of resilience, safety, affordability, strength and durability, the most widely used material on earth after water, concrete, is fundamental in shaping our world.
Nothing gets more concrete than concrete itself. From pavements, roads, garden benches, statues, tanks, swimming pools and buildings, we are surrounded by concrete.
Coming from an architectural background, Sonny understands the material, and assembles the past with the present, fact and myth blurring the boundaries of time and space.
Artcrete is made in three segments – the concrete tiles, the labyrinthine installation and the faceless idols combining different cultures, from the Sumerian myth of the Apakallus (a legend about seven sages or demigods who created the God Enki to establish culture and give civilization to mankind), to the pyramids of Egypt, symbolic of the connection between earth and heaven, written into the structure of a labyrinth.
TURNING CONCRETE INTO ART
Extending the Bauhaus stream of thought to his own art practice, Sonny has collaborated with the carpenters, masons, workers and painters (in the quaint village of Moira), who have been with Cube Gallery since its inception, for this project.
In quantitative terms, around 1,000 kg of cement was converted into 500 kg of concrete. Moulds were carved in pine wood into which the concrete slurry was poured. These blocks were then subjected to various processes to achieve the final antiquated look.
The process required extensive experimentation akin to that of an alchemist, mixing together, stripping down and juxtaposing the seemingly contradictory.
“A fanatic obsession with ‘creation’, a quest for concrete images in a transient and illusory world, breathes in its strangeness. The sculptures can be read like a treasure trove of relics floating somewhere between the past and the future, simultaneously rigid and soft, appear to be familiar, reminiscent of a lost time yet pointing towards a future and perhaps a reality where cultures, ideas, places and timelines unfold and morph together existing in a concrete wholeness of their own. Though it took a year’s work to reach fruition, the project feels effortless, existing like a self-fulfilled prophecy,” Sonny asserts.
This artistic endeavour offers epic sweeps of art deco design, and depicts an anonymous combination of a rich view into creative production and daily life in its glamour with an integral role in the development of its unique visual aesthetic.
New works will constantly be added during the duration of the show.
Artcrete, an exhibition of installations and sculptures in concrete will be held at Cube Gallery, Moira, from March 3, 2023 to September 30, 2023