seriesopen airadditional works
musui maiyarampfreehold

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The sculptor's choice of title for this recent suite of figures intrigues us. A freehold is an estate in land, inherited or held for life: a tenure that cannot be snatched away from one by arbitrary policies or rack-rent claimants. Still savoring the metaphorical resonance of the term, we break the word into its syllables on our tongues, unwittingly throwing a paradox into relief. 'Free/hold': the gesture invokes the dialectic of liberty and bondage, necessity and freedom. In Radhakrishnan's account, this dialectic must be resolved, not through agitation, but through tactical fluency, the gift of slipping in and out of domains. These figures remind us that life must be treated as a verb form rather than a fossil noun, a choreography of alternative futures rather than a freight of deadweight pasts.

The figures of the 'Freehold', avatars of Musui and Maiya, carry the charge of the 'social Antipodes', this 'cultural underground'. The original Santhal model on whom Radhakrishnan based Musui, and the real-life Maiya that we could imagine as his life-companion, have doubtless been worn down by age and the hard school of experience. But their counterparts in sculpture symbolize a continuously regenerated energy that is difficult to subjugate. The expression of the 'Freehold' figures is beatific, serenely indifferent to the inexorable passage of the seasons, the vagaries of history, themselves mercurially and prodigally into an assembly of scintillating avatars, Musui and Maiya metamorphose into many people and many things: they subsume a diversity of epochs and cultures, predicaments and scenarios.
Ranjit Hoskote
writer, art critic and independent curator,
Copyright © 2008-2013 K.S. Radhakrishnan
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