Connect with us – Art History Stories

Bold Is Beautiful – a Guide to Spotting a Ravinder Reddy Sculpture


Bold Is Beautiful – a Guide to Spotting a Ravinder Reddy Sculpture

Ravinder Reddy (b. 1956) is a contemporary Indian sculptor. His sculptures of women are now some of the most recognisable examples of contemporary South Asian Art.

He studied in Vadodara, India, and also in Britain. Since the 1980s his art has been fascinated with female bodies and his style is very identifiable. While many of his contemporaries were influenced by European sculptors Reddy wanted to pursue his own style. 

Here are 5 tips that will help you spot a Reddy sculpture:

1. Women

“I am concerned with forms that are universally understood.”

Artist biography on

The majority of Reddy’s subjects are women. Their bodies are stylised and striking. You could describe them as both sensual and monstrous. When creating an entire body, rather than the head alone, Reddy sculpts powerful figures in a variety of shapes. These bodies parody the ideal of feminine beauty in traditional and contemporary Indian culture.

Ravinder Reddy, Head, 2010, hand gilded leaf and gold paint on bronze with painted steel, Vadehera Art Gallery, New Delhi.

He also often adorns the sculptures with typical South Indian accessories, striking make-up, and carefully considered hair styles. Often this adds to their remarkable grandeur by making them seem familiar as well as something other.

2. Nudes

Society in southern India is fairly conservative. Topics, such as sex and sensuality, are taboo. Reddy’s sculptures challenge this and other notions of refined elegance. One way that they do this is by presenting nude bodies.

Ravinder Reddy Sculpture
Ravinder Reddy, Untitled, 2010, Gold leaf on painted fiberglass (ed 3), Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai.

In 2017 Reddy exhibited his first solo show in ten years, “‘Heads and Bodies, Icons and Idols.” In an interview he described how his sculptures have evolved since the beginning of his career in the 1980s:

“My initial work was perhaps more sexual. Currently, the figures are more relaxed in their stance, larger, more graceful and fluid.”

Interview with Prachi Sibal, “Art of the matter,” India Today, August 4 2017.
Ravinder Reddy, Relief, 1981, painted polyester resin fiberglass, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai.

Often the sculptures are quite intimate, either because of their nudity, pose or context. Even his clothed sculptures focus on the unclothed female body.

3. Larger than Life

Reddy’s sculptures are made on a grand scale. Usually constructed of fiberglass and wood, the monumental female heads and nudes have gotten even bigger in recent years.

Ravinder Reddy Sculpture
Ravinder Reddy, Woman Holding Her Breasts, 1998, Polyester resin fiberglass and wood, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Fukuoka.

Reddy’s sculptures have been exhibited not just in galleries but also in public spaces, such as airports. The size, in combination with their stances and locations, make them very arresting sculptures.

“Whether it is an installation, sculpture or painting the work should have the ability to hold the viewer and convey emotion.”

Ravinder Reddy quoted in an article by Georgina Maddox, “Kolkata: Ravinder Reddy’s sculptures explore classical art forms using women as the muse,” June 04 2019.

The size, naturally, enlarges the features of the sculptures. This allows the detail and the remarkable softness of them to be observed. “Woman holding her breasts” (above) is 175 x 100.4 x 99.8 cm for example. Her gaze falling just above the head of an average height viewer. The dominant seated position is self-assured. Nonetheless, the body is relaxed and designed to emphases the softness of her flesh.

4. Staring Eyes

Along with the size, it is the characteristically large eyes that make Reddy’s sculptures so confrontational. Wide, open and bold. Kohl lines the eyes, which makes their whites extremely vivid. This unblinking stare elevates what might otherwise have been a playful sculpture into something more serious. They are unflinching in their boldness.

Ravinder Reddy, Head, painted polyester resin fiberglass , 2008, Vadehera Art Gallery, New Delhi.

5. Divine Colors

Gold. Blue. Black. Red. Reddy’s sculptures are always bright and take some inspiration from pop art. They have also been called garish and kitsch. 

In color and form the sculptures also take inspiration from traditional Indian religious statuary and depictions of Hindu goddesses.

Ravinder Reddy Sculpture
Ravinder Reddy, Couple, 2013, painted polyester resin fiberglass, Vadehera Art Gallery, New Delhi.

In Hindu art golden skin is traditionally reserved for the gods. On close inspection of one of Reddy’s golden statues viewers can see the rough texture of the gold leaf and often flecks of paint. From afar, they shine bright. Consequently, the gilded skin of the statues suggests that they wouldn’t be out of place in a temple.

Often their nudity or poses contradict this suggestion of divinity. Bright red nails and lips, or traditional hair styles further complicate ideas about where the sculptures belong.

Red also has symbolic meaning in Hindu culture. A bride, for example, has red henna on her hands. Red in Indian mythology denotes bravery and strength.

Isla graduated with a first class BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge in 2018. Her specialisms were Art, Archaeology and the Roman poet Ovid. After graduation she spent a year in Japan, where she interned as a curatorial assistant at the Fukuoka Asian Arts Museum. Currently, Isla is studying for a History of Art MA at Birkbeck, London (part-time). Professionally (full-time) Isla  is the Director of the Kent Academies Network University Access Programme and also a teacher at a school in Kent.


More in Sculpture

  • 21st century

    Meet the Award-winning Sculptor and Installation Artist Ayşe Erkmen


    Berlin-based Turkish visual artist Ayşe Erkmen has been awarded the Ernst Franz Vogelmann Prize for Sculpture in 2020. As the first woman artist to receive this prize, she will have her sculptures Kuckuck (2003) and not the color it is (2014) displayed in the retrospective exhibition...

  • 20th century

    Micha Ullman’s Empty Library: An Ode to Culture


    A symbol of education in the city of Berlin, the Bebelplatz Square was chosen on May 10, 1933 by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Education and Propaganda of the Nazi government, to carry out the infamous autodafé. This sad episode of German history consisted of the burning...

  • Aerial view of Beirut Aerial view of Beirut

    20th century

    Beirut’s Art Scene: Before the Blast and Now


    It was only three years ago, after a long civil war, that Beirut’s art scene began to find its feet. Despite ever-present political corruption, an unsteady economy, and rising inflation, the Mediterranean city has recently become a hot-spot for Arab artists that often attracts an international...

  • 21st century

    Three Unique Portrayals of Europa’s Abduction Myth


    The mesmerizing realm of Greek mythology is one of the greatest sources for artists to exhibit their technical brilliance and unique interpretations. Its influence and weight not only strongly felt in visual arts, but in every other artistic discipline as well. Greek mythology is full of...

  • Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

    19th Century

    Artists and Their Myths


    Sometimes, the story that is attached to an artist is as important as their craft. Let’s take a look at artists and the myths that are related to them. Though many think of myth as a fictional story, that is not always the case. In fact,...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy