Pages from the Sketchbook – Gautam Bhatia
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Pages from the Sketchbook – Gautam Bhatia

Referencing sketches from his own personal notebook, Gautam Bhatia talks about the role of a drawing in his practice as an architect and artist.

by Gautam Bhatia Jun 02, 2019

I often use art as a wider frame of reference for architecture; its tools can be used to discover tangential realities that afflict daily life. Central to sketching, photography, writing and sculpture is the common idea of elaboration, to set out a frame for yourself, that includes people, private attitudes, city places and incidents, even politics – all things that occupy architecture. Every day I like to surround myself with bits of writing, pencil drawings, fiberglass figures, molded mud and wax. To create a continually changing residue of visible matter around me that lets me know that a process is on towards some unknown end. Like the necessary bits of evidence in a legal battle, they help me build my case in a court where I am the accused, the plaintiff, the jury and judge. For such a task drawing is a critical experimental medium whose explorative tendency had to be liberally exploited. Yet it wasn’t easy. Often, I was afraid that if I drew something that was too easy to draw, it wasn’t worth doing. So I chose to err on the side of speculation; to become an architectural astrologer, where I’d lose control of all thought and action on the drawing board. Sometimes when drawing, I would try and imagine what a collaboration between various buildings or parts of building may be like, and indeed how it might be represented in drawing. Away from conventional representation, drawing became a sort of rebellion against the limits of space. It explored possibilities of extreme views: at one end, a confinement so narrow and stifling, it required release and exposure, and at the other, a boundlessness that receded endlessly to the horizon, in which people and buildings were miniscule. As if all human endeavour - defined by people, trees and buildings - was merely an engraving in the vastness - the earth empty and expressionless, without sound or form or shade. The emptiness creates only hints. A rootless object appears in space - a human being, a tree, a building, a shadow. The drawing constructs a relationship between them.

Sometimes the shadow defuses the space itself, sometimes shadow is used to root things to the earth. Does architecture exist if it casts no shadow?

  • Architectural Working Drawing for the Design of a Chief Minister Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia
  • Gautam Bhatia’s personal sketches Image Credit: Courtesy of Gautam Bhatia

(This article was first published in Issue#19 of mondo*arc india journal - an initiative by STIR.)

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About Author

Gautam Bhatia

Gautam Bhatia

Bhatia graduated in Fine Arts and got a Masters degree in Architecture. A Delhi-based architect, he has received several awards for his drawings and buildings and has written extensively on architecture. He has authored a biography on Laurie Baker; Punjabi Baroque, Silent Spaces, Malaria Dreams (a trilogy that focuses on the cultural and social aspects of buildings); Lie: A Traditional Tale of Modern India among many others.

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