Ram Vanji Sutar is a renowned Indian sculptor. In his sculpting career of more than sixty years, he has created more than fifty monumental breath-taking sculptures. He has been awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016, two of the highest civilian awards, by the Government of India for his contributions in the field of sculpture. He has a mastery in bronze works. His monumental realistic sculptures have been recognized and appreciated in several countries and by artists from all over the world.
Ram Vanji Sutar was born on 19 February 1925, into a poor family in the village Gondur, in Dhulia district of Maharashtra, India. Early in his career, he found a mentor in Shriram Krishna Joshi, who encouraged him to join the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay.
In 1953, he completed his course and earned the Diploma in Sculpture. He topped in the class and won the prestigious Mayo Gold medal for modeling.
In 1954, he joined the Department of Archaeology, South Western Circle, Aurangabad, as a modeller for restoration work of sculptures at Ellora and Ajanta Caves. There he successfully restored many of the sculptures. He continued to work there till 1958. Later, he joined the Department of Audio-Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi as Technical Assistant (Model) in the Exhibition Division. He left his Government job in 1959, as he wanted to pursue a career as a professional sculptor.
He started his freelance sculpting career with two sculptures for the main gate for Agriculture Fair, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. His first triumph was the 45 feet high Chambal Symbolic monument at the Gandhi Sagar Dam, in Madhya Pradesh, India. This was a gigantic masterpiece carved out of a single block depicting mother Chambal with her two children- Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, symbolizing the the two states.
The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed with his work that he asked Ram to make a 50 feet high monument in bronze for the Bhakra Dam to commemorate the theme of Triumph of Labour. However, this work was left incomplete due to paucity of funds.
With the encouragement of M.S. Randhawa ICS, the then Vice Chancellor of Punjab University, Ram Sutar completed two gigantic statues of 20 feet height of Goddess Ganga and Yamuna at Rose Garden, Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh in the state of Punjab.
One of his most well known works is the bust of Mahatma Gandhi that he sculpted. This is instantly recognizable worldwide, and its copies were presented by the Government of India to other countries like France, Italy, Russia, England, Argentina, Barbados, Malaysia and Caracas, where they have been put on display on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi Centenary Celebrations. His sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi has been installed in more than one hundred fifty countries. The largest copy of this bust was made for the International Trade Fair of Asia in 1972 and has been permanently installed at Pragati Maidan, Mathura Road, New Delhi.
He has also sculpted 17 feet high Mahatma Gandhi statues in meditation pose, which are installed at Parliament House, New Delhi and at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. A 13 feet high statue of Mahatma Gandhi accompanied by Harijan children was sculpted for Sandur in Bangalore, Gandhi Smriti in Delhi and Delhi Public School in Noida.
Another of his well known sculpture is the 21 feet high Equestrian statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which is installed in Amritsar. His other notable sculptures are the 10 feet high bronze statue of Govind Ballabh Pant overlooking Rafi Marg in New Delhi; statue of Bihar Vibhuti Anugrah Narain Sinha and Karpuri Thakur in Bihar Legislative Assembly campus; statue of Shri Krishna Sinha in Bihar secretariat and many more.
Ram V. Sutar has designed the Statue of Unity, the tallest statue of the world, which is currently under construction in Gujarat.
He has made more than 200 monumental sculptures in last sixty years. Many of the statues adorn the Parliament house, New Delhi, including the 16 feet high Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in meditation pose. These remarkable statues are; 18 feet high statues of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Sardar Patel, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Shivaji Maharaj, Jai Prakash Narain, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Hemu Kalani, Vithal Bhai Patel, Shahuji Maharaj, Babu Jagjiwan Ram and Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant.
In 1952, Ram V. Sutar got married to Pramila. They have a son Anil Sutar, who was born in 1957; and is also a sculptor as well as an architect. Anil Sutar conceived and landscaped a sprawling sculpture garden, called Anand Van, near the Surajkund-Batkal lake. Here gigantic white fibreglass replicas of Ram Sutar’s creations have been put on display. He and his son presently have a company and a studio of their own in Noida, called the Ram Sutar Art Creations Pvt. Ltd. and Ram Sutar Fine Arts Pvt. Ltd.
Awards and Recognitions
Ram V. Sutar’s sculptures are installed in different parts of India and in several countries all over the world, including USA, Europe and Asian Countries. He has been honoured with many National awards. In 1999, he was awarded the Padma Shri for his contribution in the field of sculpting by the then President of India, Shri K.R. Narayanan. Later in 2016, he received Padma Bhushan award from the Government of India. His works have been appreciated in India and all over the world. Artists from several countries have visited his studio to study and learn the techniques of sculpting. Many art critics have compared his works to that of the masters like Rodin and Michelangelo.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah