By Harihar Swarup
Sudarshan Sahoo is a well known name in the world of stone art. The 83-year-old sculptor was awarded Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award on the occasion of India’s 72nd Republic Day. He is known for his stone craft all over the world. Even today, he often travels to Japan, USA and many other countries for his art. He runs a training and creative centre for traditional sculpture of stone, wood and fibreglass in Bhubaneswar. At 42, he bagged a National Award and decorated with Padma Shri when he was 48.
Thanking the government for the recognition, 83-year-old Sahoo said “I am dedicating the Award to Lord Jagannath and the people of Odisha. At the last leg of my life I cannot expect anything more than this honour. I am humbled and grateful to the government for this recognition, which will certainly help in motivating many talented artists, who are quitting this traditional work”.
Asked about source of his inspiration, Sahoo said “being brought up in a town like Puri is an inspiration by itself. At first, I attempted to build small temples out of stones and showed them to my mother and brother. They liked it. So I endeavored to carve more stones in temples and deities. That helped me to reach where I am today”.
He feels happy seeing his students going up in life and getting awards for their achievements. “I was nobody, I am nobody and shall remain one. But my art is something that people will recognize forever. You see the number of people who have come to visit my craft village. It is because they search for best stone carving in Bhubaneswar. But have you ever seen anybody searching for Sudarshan Sahoo’s crafts? That clearly tells us what people look for. I am thankful that I get a decent number of people to visit every day”, he added humbly,
Established after completing the decoration of Atami Stupta in Japan, Sahoo come back to Puri and established the Surdarshan Sahoo crafts Museum in the year 1977 in Puri.
For a long time Sahoo, a non-traditional artist, had been practicing the art of traditional sculpture in the medium of stone and wood at his ancestral home in Kumuti Sahi, Puri town. After visiting all over India and abroad with relation to his art, he thought of institutionalizing the set up so that a proper workshop, showroom along with facilities for artists will be created to enable tourists and dignitaries to see and feel the inheritance and continuous development of traditional sculptures. Art lovers and connoisseurs will have the opportunity to see various forms of sculptures along with evolution process. Some big projects can be undertaken at this centre. Non-traditional pupil having aptitude for art to be encouraged to pursue this field as a profession.
Along with some of his contemporary artists and assistants, he started the centre in the year 1977 which was a new and unique concept at that time. This centre in the past has developed many sculptures from non-traditional families which helped the conservative artistic society to do better work. Side by side, training, residential facilities, a Buddhist temple in Japanese style, library, show room were added to facilities for the visitors and artists. For a long time it is exporting the handicrafts to foreign countries and has been recognized by the government. Art lovers and visitors from all over the world have appreciated this endeavour.
Born on March 11,1939 in Puri Sahoo acquired the artistic skill of traditional sculpting under the tutelage of Guru Bhubneswar Mohapatra and guru Kunia Moharana of Puri town.