Himmat Shah was born in 1933 in Lothal, near Saurashtra, one of the sites of the Indus Valley civilisation where several pre-historic artefacts have been excavated. It is not surprising then, that although the artist mastered many different mediums, his favourite is terracotta.
"With self-designed tools and innovative techniques, he has radicalised this ancient medium, giving it a contemporary edge. Working in the method of slip-casting, viscous clay is poured through an opening into the thick plaster mould to be absorbed slowly by it. When the plaster mould is opened, the clay object is extracted but with new kinds of unexpected results such as accidental fractures, transmuted cracks and holes that, for Himmat, accentuate the tactile qualities of the surface. Himmat's recurring theme in terracotta has been the monolith head that takes on the form of an iconic object, a ritual symbol or an ancestral memory [...] The erect form exudes a subliminal presence as matter appears to have transformed to contain the energy of a tirthankara, a guardian spirit or a linga." (Manifestations IV, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2010, p. 157)