INDepth: With Claymen

INDepth: With Claymen

Aman Khanna is a multidisciplinary artist behind the quirky Claymen sculptures. Read on to know more about the artist and his unique pieces as part of our INDepth series.

INDepth by FTC is an ongoing exploration of all the uncut diamonds that are making their mark in India's growing cultural community.

The brainchild of multi-disciplinary artist Aman Khanna, Claymen is a collective and gallery space that produces one of a kind artisanal sculptures and objects - some of which are functional and have multi-purpose uses while some are aesthetic and decorative pieces that usually depict the myriad of emotions and intrinsic dysfunctionalities that make a human being.

Khanna, a graphic illustrator, sculptor and artist who graduated from London College of Communication majoring in graphic and information design also owns and runs design firms Infomen (based in London) and Infonauts (based in New Delhi).

His work has been featured in a number of magazines and publications worldwide, such as 'Cause and Effect' (Gestalten, Berlin), 'Graphic Explanation in Design' (Pie International, Japan), 'Information Graphics' (Taschen, Italy), 'Visual Storytelling' (Gestalten, Berlin), 'Eye Magazine' (London, UK) and 'Platform' (New Delhi, India).

He has also created illustrations for many international magazines and newspapers including Harvard Business publishing, The Times (London) and the Wall Street Journal.

FTC caught up with multitalented artist to talk about his initiative with Claymen, his design sensibilities and what the future holds for the contemporary minimalistic designs that his brand caters.

“With this medium I began to explore the third dimension, creating small clay sculptures that are inspired by my surroundings and the people living in them. I call them Claymen. Claymen are now divided into two broad categories: Functional and Dysfunctional.”

Aman Khanna

Over the past few years the artist claims he has increasingly gravitated towards ‘clay’ since it is the most common and ancient medium used by humans to create everyday objects.

“The idea of being or being present in time and space is reflected in my choice of material – clay is a simple, everyday, raw material used by everyone. Sun dried, half-baked in an open fire – clay is omnipresent and yet individual in the way one uses it. In time, the clay dissolves back into the Earth. Clay has added a new dimension to my work.”

Aman Khanna

On the ideology and aesthetic behind his quirky characters and iconic forms, Khanna further elaborates,

“These objects add aesthetic by taking it away. They simply are what they are: a celebration of a style that lives at peace with its own little imperfections. These claymen figure sculptures emerge from a careful observation of the common man and his dilemmas. They are peaceful, contemplative and quiet. While going through their own existential crises they are mere witnesses to the fact that 'Man is losing his humanity and becoming a thing amongst the things he produces.'"

Aman Khanna

Claymen is not just a workshop and collective – it is a gallery space as well. Located in New Delhi, the gallery encapsulates a theme-based display that continues for a few months during which more objects are added to an existing collection. Over a period of time , the theme is subject to change.

"I didn't want and couldn't achieve this with a conventional retail space. At Claymen gallery/shop, I will be displaying my thoughts, feelings, observations and ideas as self-initiated project installations. The idea is to enjoy the process, voice my thoughts and create an enjoyable, meaningful experience for myself and for others."

Aman Khanna

Featured in gallery and museum exhibitions abroad as well - in cities such as Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Seoul and Istanbul - it is clear that these infectious characters have made a name and impression for themselves all over the world.

On the possibility of perhaps expanding to different locations in the country and rest of the world, Khanna says he prefers to work from one place where he can create, produce and sell all together in one consolidated location and that there are no expansion plans as of now.

The artist has also worked on several projects with brands and stores such as Bodice, Le Mill and Uniqlo.

Tyranny Of Perception - 2015

An installation of almost 500 clay faces (faces of judgement) was displayed at the Amazon India Fashion Week, done exclusively for Indian fashion label, Bodice. At the time of the fashion show a single clay face was kept on each seat along with an explanation card. People were taken by surprise when they saw these faces when they approached their seats, it worked as a mirror made of clay.

“This is a mirror made of clay. These faces are our faces. Each face is an expression, a representation of an emotion, a signifier of judgement. But, these Claymen are not merely the representations of expressions. This is about choice. The way we live our lives often a response to the demands, expectations and expressions of others. The way we choose to live, the friends we have, the places we go to, the clothes we wear can be torn away from the tyranny of perception. So, let the Claymen look at you and , and use them to look at yourself.”

Aman Khanna

Bowls For Le Mill - 2016

A limited edition of 87 bowls inspired from the Indian holy city of Banaras (Varanasi) were produced exclusively for multi-brand collective store Le Mill. Each bowl represents one of the 87 Ghats in Banaras.

“These bowls are functional, they are hand made and built to perform a task at hand. They are left deliberately unfinished from the outside showing the natural colours of clay, dents and textures. Glazed in white or black from the inside these bowls reveal the true texture and essence of Banaras.”

Aman Khanna

Special Cups For Uniqlo - 2019

The limited edition cups were made to be given out from Uniqlo at their initial launch in India as a gesture of their gratitude to their very special guests.

“Combining Indian and Japanese aesthetic, the half glazed, half unglazed cups were hand-pressed in the middle not just to provide a better grip but to leave a permanent impression of human touch to remind us of the subjective value of human relationships.”

Aman Khanna

Every creator has a different take and contribution to the current "Culture". The artist elaborates on what culture means to him and his contribution with regards to his art form and work.

“I think my work deals with human feelings, emotions, social behaviour and the idea of self-reflection. For me it all boils down to a single individual, regardless of their cultural background. My pieces reflect the same ideology – bringing out what is brewing on the inside.”

Aman Khanna

Check out the official website for the objects and sculptures for the newest arrivals!

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