Perhaps it would be a perfect world of reason and logic, wherein we would live harmonious lives sworn to none but the most apollonian code of conduct, if it weren’t for those meddling emotions that make us sway like pendulums around an inert and mechanical rationality. It would be a life too still perhaps, without the organicity of the flesh and blood that compose us; without flutters of the heart that ever so slightly alter our paths in life, or the internal maelstroms that upend our very existence. Love is unambiguously the most elusive emotion of all. In fact, it is difficult to conceptualize it as a singular emotion for it is a complex network of several emotions and thought processes. But love like most emotions is a blank canvas, it is what you make it. It is neither the bountiful utopia of joy that is constantly served to us by fiction, nor is it the painful hell from the cautionary tales of failed romances. Or perhaps it is simultaneously both. One part of it cannot exist without the other. It is almost a metaphysical category onto which we project our hopes and dreams. It is this duality that I seek to represent in my sculpture, Love Has Two Faces.
Love has been a difficult thing to define throughout history. We as a civilization have now proven the existence of black holes and studied the nature of quantum particles, and yet we are no closer to understanding love than our ancestors from the stone age. We could even look at most of literature as a desperate attempt at describing love and yet falling just short of reaching it. For love is a most multifaceted, subjective and personal thing, sometimes even independent of those we love. There are no conditions that need to be met in order for us to love another person, and those that we think exist are of our own creation like some solipsistic justification for attraction or adoration. We may not see eye to eye like the horse heads in the sculpture, but much like the birds on top, we may still love each other.
“Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake- it’s everything except what it is!”William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1
Love is indeed everything except what it is, ripe with contradictions and paradoxes that make no sense, and yet, it’s almost as if evolution necessitated these paradoxes when it moulded us into the social animals that we are. It is essential to both inner and global peace and while we may forget that sometimes, deep down, we strive to live in harmony with those around us. We may be disillusioned by fictional narratives and prescriptive codes that tell us who we need to be and who we must love when our hearts tell us otherwise. We may fall upon the thorns of life and bleed, perhaps betrayed or taken for granted, and that may make us callous. Introspection and facing our inner selves always reveals that even under miles of dead skin, we yearn to be moved and touched again.
My last words from my father to me were, “Sonal, you are capable of so much more”. My sculptures are my “so much more” in honor of my father, Dr. Prabhakar R Sheth.
Photographs by Amar Ambani