Hyderabad-based Dheeraj Kumar turns passion into sculptures of art

With his works at University of Hyderabad and RBVRR Telangana Police Academy, the sculptor is determined to carve a niche in the field

Motorists travelling towards Gopanpally — one of Hyderabad’s growing suburbs — slow down at a particular stretch to gaze at the imposing iron sculpture of a horse. Weighing 300 kilos, the figure stands outside Dheeraj Kumar popular as Dheeraj Sculptor’s house-cum-studio in a serene neighbourhood that is still to get a pucca road.

By Dheeraj Kumar | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

With just a few houses and trees all around, the area has a village-like atmosphere. The house and studio are separated by asbestos sheets and a grey wall with splashes of colour. “I grew up in a mud house and this environment reminds me of my childhood; that’s why I took this place on a lease,” says Dheeraj who hails from the Pratapgarh district (near Allahabad) of Uttar Pradesh

An alumnus of University of Hyderabad (UoH), Dheeraj is one of Hyderabad’s growing community of sculptors. “It is tough but I am determined to make a mark here,” he says, adding, “Some of my classmates are good artists but due to financial difficulties have taken up jobs as art teachers. It is challenging to make a living as an artist, but I am determined,” he says.

Dheeraj Kumar | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Dheeraj’s father is a farmer and was not too keen on his son’s interest in art. “My mother supported me but there was no one else in the village to guide. Somehow I pursued Fine Arts degree from Banaras Hindu University,” he says. Incidentally, he is also the first one from his village to study art.

Recalling his struggle after finishing his Masters from UoH, he says, “I would go to apartment complexes in Hitec city and companies to showcase my art; I was never ashamed to ask for work.” It was during such a visit that the RBVRR Telangana Police Academy asked him to create a rock installation. He explains, “The exhibit is based on Italian sculptor Michelangelo’s quote ‘The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material’ Likewise, promising officers are already present and they hone their skills at the Police Academy.”

By Dheeraj Kumar | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Five exhibits — three steel sculptures, one rock sculpture, a mural he did at the UoH and one on the University logo are all a tribute to the University’s efforts in encouraging students to expand their horizons. The steel sculptures of a man (standing 12 feet high, installed on a 40-feet rock) and a woman with wings (six feet high) as well as that of a girl studying are symbolic of students soaring on the wings of knowledge. Dheeraj who works in various mediums like stone, metal, scrap, iron, and steel, loves to create large works.

Looking intently at the horse that took him three months to complete, he says, “Horse is a symbol of power.” He used scrap sourced from dealers in Bahadurpura for the body parts. He is glad his dream has been fulfilled and is looking for prospective buyers.

By Dheeraj Kumar | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Dheeraj dreams of converting the 250-yard studio with a Shiv ling in its premises into an artistic space. “Some people might feel inhibited to walk into a gallery. My dream is to create a space where people from all walks of life can enjoy art.”

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