Sundeep Bhutoria

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sculpting life - Usha Rani Hooja

May 21, 2013: I heard from Sarvesh Bhatt, who is in Jaipur, that Usha Rani Hooja is no more. She would be remembered as one of the leading woman sculptors of India. She was a member of Rajasthan Lalit Kala Academy, in 1960, 1980 and 1990.
A post graduate in Philosophy, she was drawn towards sculpture after she came in contact with the art students of Delhi Polytechnic. Usha ji started her artistic career as a sculptor from London. She was deeply informed about the various styles of world famous sculptors like Henry Moore, Etienne, Maillot, Modigliani, Picasso, Brancusi, Alexander Calder but created her own Indian style.
She spent a larger part of her life in Rajasthan and has, since 1955, sculpted over 40 statues and figures as part of commissioned work for the state governments and various private organizations. Her large-sized sculptures can be found not only in Delhi, Kota, Bhilwara, Bombay, Jaipur, Jodhpur but also in Sweden, Washington and Phillipines.
She married Bhupendra Hooja, who was working in BBC London, in 1949. She returned to India in 1954. In 1955, she created the 6-ft sculpture “Power & Industry” along with four other sculptors. Likewise, in 1958, she sculpted another work of art in Pragati Maidan. She returned to Rajasthan in 1958 and stayed on in Jaipur from 1959 onwards. Her artistic journey in Jaipur won her many laurels and recognition. In later life, she used metal and scraps to create smaller abstract themes.
Exhibition of her works were held, apart from Jaipur, Nagpur, Mumbai and Delhi, in Cambridge, Liverpool, Derby, Newport (Wales) and Mauritius.
Her popular works that are on public display include Shahid Smarak, Ravindra, Doctor Aur Mareez, Maa aur Baccha etc. In 1975, during her illness, she took to writing blank verse poetry that led to the publication of her Songs & Sculptures – a compilation of poetry and art work.
In fact, very recently I had approached her for participating in Desert Souls series of Rajasthan Forum, but she, though eager, declined it due to her illness. I pray her soul rests in peace. Her works would inspire many in the days to come.

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