Art, in all its varied forms, has always been viewed as apt leisure; not much of a necessity but the interest of idle minds.
Its acceptability has been gradual, so much so that forms like metal visual art have suffered the worst.
But one young man, Saddam Suraji, has set out to change all that.
He has ventured into what he calls art with a function.
Suraji, a 19-year-old metal sculptor, grew up watching his father, James Suraji, working on metal and was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps. Suraji, who works on scrap metal, has been producing magnificent art pieces in a career that has its roots firmly steeped in his early childhood when he first embraced the skills of sculpting. His art pieces, predominently comprising life-sized and at times larger-than-life figures ranging from giraffes, crocodiles, elephants, buffaloes to birds and trees, reflect the artist’s irreversible intimacy with nature.
According to Suraji, his type of art is inspired by “Mother Nature” as he makes use of wrought iron and scrap metal to come up with artefacts which show great artistic work.
“My work is as a result of my surroundings. I just sit down and think how I can come up with something unique and pregnant with meaning and that which can appeal to passersby and potential customers,” he said.
Suraji depicts animals in postures on the soft and green lawn at Newlands shopping centre in Harare.
It is Suraji’s ability to fashion out scrap metal and his astute finishing that makes his work carry a defining touch of class for someone of his age. Of interest is the “Baobab Tree” on which the scrap metal and the varnish used make it difficult for one to notice that it is actually metal and not the real baobab tree.
The “Baobab Tree” was also crafted in such a way that it can be used as a glass holder at a function. Each of his artefacts has got a function depending on its structure and placement.
What is functional art anyway?
Functional art is any utilitarian object created with the intention of incorporating or depicting its aesthetic and intrinsic values.
Functional art creates unique and individual pieces of art that fulfill one’s life purposes at the same time being an aesthetic feature to enjoy.
Most pieces draw from the organic forms of nature, blending and complementing the environment more than overpowering it.
According to some art experts, functional art is something which is both beautiful and useful and it brings incredible works of creativity and beauty in our everyday lives.
At his workshop, various artefacts such as birds and butterflies are all designed in such a way that they serve several functions.
Birds are reflected engaging in practices that mirror their own philosophy of pro-creation in the face of a world that harbours other creatures (human beings and other animals) which are preoccupied with hunting them down for food.
Suraji thus depicts this community of birds, as he animates their life and sexuality, showcasing his vast knowledge of the creatures.
He has also realised that venturing into metal sculpting is cheaper and the materials are readily available compared to stone sculpting.
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