It is difficult to fix Himmat in a category and this must perplex all those who want an instant definition which is an aid to our internal filing system. Himmat is an open sensibility, alert and sharp to the mystery that surrounds all things. Nothing is trivia, nothing is junk. His studio is a storehouse of objects he has picked up and which outgrew their use and found their way to junk yards and the rubbish heap. Old bottles, bits of metal, knives of all sorts, wires, ropes, pots & pans, all resuscitated and given a new status coexisting happily with clay, plaster, pigments, chemicals, Heads at various stages in the making . All, including him, covered with a fine white dust. It is more like a magician’s cave than a conventional studio. There’s an air of expectancy, of something in the making, something about to be, and surely all the things which have been made were events in this silent concert of seemingly inconsequential things converted by the alchemy of his love.
The heads in so many shapes and colours, silently converse both amongst themselves and with us. If you stay with them long enough you might easily be switching roles. You the observer can become the observed in their mute presence.
He holds up a head and says “he was born in 1200°”.
The clay tempered with a magical oxide turning only the features into an incandescent orange as if the flame which licked it got congealed leaving the massive hairless head a jet black.
There are no metaphors, no attempts to preach or convert. He still retains the curiosity of a child wanting to see what happens when certain things are submitted to fire. The dross burning out, soft clay from the bed of Jamuna becoming hard as stone, the surfaces crackle or sparkle.
When I last went into his cave which is next to mine, I saw a row of heads suffocating in polythene which was tightly stretched over them. They were awaiting their baptism by fire.
“When will they find their release from their present bondage” I asked, “when there are enough of them to occupy a whole kiln”.
The economics of firing does not permit individual births. Indeed, the economics of this kind of sculpture threatens to annihilate it all the time. It is a constant struggle to keep going and it is a miracle that Himmat has been able to continue at all. There is an inextinguishable demon within him which forces him to his quest. As he handles a lump of clay he says, “How wonderful it would be if she could find ones’ release through a bit of mud, like Van Gogh who transversed the limits of his vision and found that living had no more meaning after such an intense realisation.” Most of us get drained before the final assault.