Subodh Gupta, one of the best-known Indian contemporary artists and master of readymade, is represented this year in Monnaie de Paris with his first personal exhibition in France. This impressive retrospective contains his 30 most famous masterpieces in 6 sections showing the evolution of Gupta’s artistic language. Capable to make extraordinary things with the use of very ordinary items, he is nowadays one of the most remarkable figures of international art scene.
Subodh Gupta was born in 1964 in Bihar, northern India. From 1983 to 1988 he studied Painting in College of Arts & Crafts in Patna. In 1986 he had his first personal exhibition, representing several of his early paintings. And today we know Gupta not as a simple painter, but as an artist capable to work with a great variety of media, from painting to sculpture and from video to performance.
Gupta’s artworks have an easily recognizable individual style due to materials used by artist: metal cookware, pots, pans and other objects of everyday life. His artistic language remains understandable in all over the world, and in the same time it is very specific with many references to Indian culture being in the same time very personal for the artist: “The material is so common; it is all mine”, he says about his creations. “The material belongs to my family. This is where I come from.”
In India a kitchen is always in the center of house, becoming also a center for social life, exchanges and discussions. For artist, this place is not only a part of everyday routine, but also a symbolic and spiritual space. With his sculptures made of bright metal dishes and pots, he shows this sacred matter of simple objects and intends to trigger debates about some grave problems of our society. For instance, one of the iconic Gupta’s masterpieces Very Hungry God (2006), a big skull that has been created with hundreds of gleaming stainless-steel utensils, evocates increasing universal vanitas, voracious and insatiable; with this artwork he draws our attention to the excessive consumption of our society, that is also accompanied by increasing starvation in several countries, including India. Other famous artworks, like a readymade Two Cows (2003-2008) or a Doot (2003) are inspired by travel, when a split-screen video All Things Are Inside (2007) alludes to the migration. Even showing people in exile, Gupta creates a very personal and intimate sensation, showing to the spectator some simple items for daily life.
If several works are inspired by personal daily experiences and feelings of the artist, like I Go Home Every Single Day (2004-2014), tracing the artist’s journey from his studio in Delhi to his hometown, others are a result of deep reflections. Today Gupta is working on the theme of the universe, and his last artworks, like Seven Billion Light Years (2015-2016) or Anahad (Unstruck) (2016) are quite philosophical and conceptual. The first one shows a round of dough flying in the air that looks like an Unidentified Flying Object, and the second one is a machine that allows to feel the reverberating sound of the cosmos that transcends space and time.
Today Gupta is one of the most famous living Indian artists, recognized throughout the world for his spiritualism, originality and variety of media. Exhibited individually for the first time in 1980’s in India, today he is shown in many countries. His recent projects include group and solo exhibitions at Sackler Gallery in Washington DC, USA (2017), Mead Gallery in Warwick, UK (2017), Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, USA (2016), Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA (2016), Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK (2015), and Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany (2014).
The exhibition in Monnaie de Paris is the first opportunity to see all described Gupta’s artworks together in France. They will be on display from 13th April to 26th August 2018 in conversation with the Monnaie’s permanent collection of metal artifacts to stimulate the visitor’s reflection on the medium of metal and to emphasize its symbolic value and the technical and artistic skill required to manipulate with it. This exhibition is curated by Camille Morineau, director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Monnaie de Paris and Mathilde de Croix, exhibition curator at the Monnaie de Paris. It will be also accompanied by a publication in French and English with descriptions of displayed works, commented chronology of artist’s career and a series of essays.
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