Indian, 20th-21st centuries. Born, 1924, Barian Kalan, India (now Pakistan); died 2015, Chandigarh, India.
Nek Chand’s Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India demonstrates the imaginative vision and fervency of creation that animates the greatest of outsider artists. It is a twenty-five acre artwork containing over two thousand sculptures and naturally formed rocks dramatically placed throughout a multi-chambered environment filled with lush vegetation, flowing streams, and dramatic waterfalls cascading down rock embankments, all linked by an intricate web of winding walkways.
The representational sculptures include animals, imaginary beings, and humans—boys, soldiers, queens, and partygoers—often placed in groups suggestive of narrative situations, as when the queens emerge from their bath observed on high by the king. These works are frequently built from gray or flesh-tinted cement on metal armatures and are variously covered with recycled domestic and industrial materials: porcelain shards, colorful broken wrist bangles, or ground industrial slag. Created in many styles, the figures may display minimally inflected expressions etched in flat cement faces; others are embellished by broken shells used as eyes; while still others are adorned with shocks of real human hair.
2006, Rock Garden, The Kingdom of Nek Chand, La Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland
2006, Concrete Kingdom: Sculptures by Nek Chand, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
2000, Nek Chand: Healing Properties, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI
1997, Nek Chand Shows the Way: Sculptures from the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, Waterman’s Art Center, Brentford, UK
1996, Nek Chand, Asia Society, New York, NY
Capitol Children's Museum, Washington D.C.
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Museum of American Folk Art, New York
John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe
Bandyopadhyay, Soumyen and Iain Jackson, The Collection, the Ruin and the Theatre: Architecture, sculpture and landscape in Nek Chand's Rock Garden, Chandigarh (Liverpool University Press, 2007).
Bhatti, S. S., “The Rock Garden of Chandigarh, Raw Vision 1 (Spring, 1989; rpt. Edition RV/ 1, 2, 3): 28-37
Maizels, John, “Nek Chand: Creator of a Magical World,” in Vernacular Visionaries: International Outsider Art, ed. Annie Carlano (Santa Fe, NM: The Museum of International Folk Art and Yale UP, 2003): 66-77.
Peiry, Lucienne, ed., Nek Chand’s Outsider Art: The Rock Garden of Chandigarh (Paris: Flammarion, 2005).
Umberger, Leslie, “Nek Chand: A Tale of Two Cities,” in Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press and John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2007): 318-343.