Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart discusses Shilpa Gupta’s works and her eventful start to 2013
New York: A contemporary Indian new media artist, Shilpa Gupta’s body of work presents a consistent progression in theory and practice that has rightfully earned her a firm spot in the arena of contemporary Indian art. Alumni of the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts in Mumbai, the main crux of her artistic practice is to explore the role and purpose of art- this enquiry taking many forms.
The artists has had a packed start to the year, currently exhibiting at Galerie im Taxispalais in Innsbruck, Austria in a show titled Will we ever be able to mark enough?, curated by Renee Baert and which will subsequently travel to Montreal and Bruges.
Gupta is also showing at Art Basel. Her works at the art fair include Stars on flags of the world with the Mumbai based gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Untitled shown by the Parisian gallery Yvon Lambert and 2651-1 by Dvir Gallery from Tel Aviv, Israel.
In the first half of 2013 alone, she has been featured in various group shows at places including the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in England, the Singapore Art Museum, the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, the Guggenheim in New York, the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates and a group show at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen.
Gupta is careful in her rhetoric not to delegate categories to identify her work or practice. She prefers to call it ‘everyday art’ given her preoccupation with daily observations and current events. To relegate her works to set categories would be limiting the scope of their discourse and its reception by the viewer. In “Stars on flags of the world” a glass vitrine holds hundreds of steel stars, like those found on national flags from around the world. The piles of stars are reflective of the appropriation of this particular insignia in constructing a national identity and narrative- much like alphabets that are put together to form words. Although seemingly political, her works hold a wider conversation with a willing ear and keen eye.
Regardless of the content and narrative of her works, Gupta is clear that her works are not simply ‘political’- a badge often pinned to works of art that comment on political and social scenarios. Her preoccupation is rather centered on the meaning of language. The multi layered contexts of her works not only point at the different tangents that they traverse, but their reception by the viewer also highlight the gamut of popular perception that a work encounters on its completion- the afterlife of the work. The viewers’ response is an integral part of her practice- sometimes evident and at other times concealed.
Shilpa Gupta’s “Threat”, first created in 2009, depictsa stack of bricks simulating a wall. The bricks are cast soap embossed with the word THREAT. The smell is powerfully soapy; it builds as you near the work. The work is performative- the viewer is encouraged to pick and take back a brick, this action depleting the ‘threat’- physically and symbolically. The degenerative and fleeting tactility of a bar of soap makes the viewer think of the emotional response to threat- sudden and strong, yet impermanent and short-lived.
“2652-1”, being shown by the Tel Aviv gallery Dvir at Art Basel, recounts the number of steps the artist took between Al Aksa Mosque, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Gupta assembled small photographs that she took while walking between the three sites, resulting in a thin 42-meter long canvas. The work highlights the physical proximity of these geographical locations juxtaposed with the political, religious and ideological schisms that creates separation between them. The process of globalization over the past decades is traced in varying doses in her works. Narratives of identity, nationhood, borders and boundaries and power relations are implicitly imbedded is the coded discourse of her multivalent works. It is this quality that makes her works relevant to a contemporary international audience of varying sensibilities.
Tarika Agarwal of Saffronart contemplates what to expect from the upcoming exhibition ‘Every Day Matters’ at Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen
Mumbai:‘Every Day Matters @ Fairschou Foundation Copenhagen’ is a group exhibition of international contemporary artists. The exhibition will run for a period of three months starting from 14 March, 2013. If any of you are in Copenhagen during this time and have the opportunity to visit the show, I think it’s a definite must-see. I know I would.
The Faurschou Foundation is a privately funded art institution in Copenhagen that was established by Luise and Jens Faurschou. For 25 years now, they have presented exhibitions of internationally recognized artists both in Denmark and abroad. This exhibition represents artists from the Middle East, USA, Europe, South America and Asia. Among these are Shilpa Gupta and Raqs Media Collective.
Shilpa Gupta is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Mumbai. She studied sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts here, and is currently one the most respected contemporary women artists living and working in India today. She is an interdisciplinary artist who works with sound, video, photography and performance to capture, explore and understand themes like desire, religion and security (nations, militarism and identity).
Raqs Media Collective on the other hand is a group that was founded in the early 1990s by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. They enjoy playing around with a plurality of roles often appear as artists, though sometimes also as curators and other times as philosophical agent provocateurs.
The title of the exhibition ‘Every Day Matters’ gives away a lot of what one can expect from this exhibition. It forms a framework for the artists to play with the idea of the fundamental condition that every day is important and that reality has forced its way into our lives and the artist’s lives as a necessity. In places with political unrest or socioeconomic turmoil and challenges that we face on a day to day basis, art is often influenced by these external factors. An artist’s individual needs and social commitments have a crucial influence on their works – through art they express themselves from the past and the present. I think it would be interesting to view the world from an artist’s perspective. Also, to see how their creativity and imagination works to create a masterpiece.
Since the works are not up for viewing on the Foundation’s website yet, I have picked a few interesting pieces by both the artists to give an idea of what you can expect from them while attending the exhibition.
Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on Shilpa Gupta’s installation at the ZKM Media Museum in Germany
Karlsruhe:Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art is the latest exhibit at the ZKM Media Museum, which will be running till January 2013. The museum is one of a kind as it is the first and only space in the world solely for interactive art. Shilpa Gupta’s installation I keep falling at you is part of a larger body of her work titled Half a Sky which was exhibited at OK Offenes Kulturhaus Upper Austria.
I keep falling at you, a swarm-like structure is made up of thousands of microphones and is hanging from a ceiling. Massive and looming in appearance, it is contradictory in nature and form because the microphones in this case are not being used as recording devices but are actually emitting sounds and voices. Gupta tries to play with contradictions between appearance and reality.
There are works on display by 90 different artists, but the underlying theme running through them all is the emphasis on ‘auditory experience’. The idea is to engage visitors with new age sound perceptions within a space that is not necessarily an ideal location. Gupta’s work is on display till 16 January, 2013.
Manjari Sihare on Shilpa Gupta’s set design for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris
New York: In April 2012, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris showcased John Adam’s opera Nixon in China,featuring Shilpa Gupta’s first ever-set design for an opera stage. The tradition of artists designing opera, ballet and theatre sets is a well-established one, particularly in Paris, where several impressionist and post-impressionist painters including Picasso, Chagall and Dali contributed to important theatrical productions.
Centered on American President Richard Nixon’s 1972 meeting with China’s revolutionary leader, Mao Tse-Tung, this opera documents a watershed event in American-Chinese relations. An article in the Hindustan Times on May 27, 2012, records that this project dates back to the summer of last year, when the director of Théâtre du Châtelet approached Gupta to design the set, having seen her work in Paris.
The opera opens with Nixon and his wife, Pat, stepping out of a big wall designed by Shilpa Gupta – evoking China’s isolation from the West and the differences between the two societies. Gupta’s design captures the confrontation between the two worlds and the complexity of protocols during such diplomatic visits. The state banquet scene at the end of Act I has a chandelier composed of 50 TV screens, which Gupta created in collaboration with video artist Olivier Roset, emblematic of the media frenzy that surrounded this event. These screens flash archival video montages from that period. In Act II, Gupta underscores the American First Lady’s visit to the Summer Palace using floating golden statues of mythical creatures in glass cases and moving children in automated trolleys – a comment on the powered nature of such visits by the wives of the heads of states.
Scene 1: The Nixons descend onto a gangway set against Gupta’s brick wall
Act 1: Gupta’s sculpted chandelier of TV screens
Act 2: First Lady, Pat Nixon’s visit to the Summer Palace
Act 2: First Lady, Pat Nixon’s visit to the Summer Palace (close-up)
To see the entire production of Nixon in China, click here.
The Saffronart team has been scuttling around to put together a handy list of exhibitions to check out this month. Some end soon, and with some others you can take your time, though we wouldn’t really recommend waiting too long. So if you’re in Mumbai, Delhi, England or the U.S. of A. this month, you know where to go.
From the Exhibition The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture” Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455). Gates of Paradise. Credits: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum website
The Florentine Renaissance: “The City as a Crucible of Culture” Where: Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum City Museum, Byculla On View Till: July 8, 2014
You don’t need to travel all the way to Florence to get a glimpse of Italian Renaissance…not this week anyway. The Bhau Daji Lad Museum has extended this exhibition which features prolific early renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti’s masterpiece, ‘The Gates of Paradise’: a work also revered by other artists such as Michaelangelo himself. The interior and permanent collection at the museum will be an added bonus to your visit.
Mansoor Ali: “Anatomy of an Unknown Chair” Where: Gallery Maskara, Colaba On View Till: July 31, 2014
Ever thought about chairs beyond their functional and aesthetic qualities? Mansoor Ali’s ongoing show at the Gallery Maskara is sure to provoke you to think about much more through his installations that employ chairs as a primary medium. His five installations address several issues pertaining to politics and power play, reminding us of the effectiveness of found objects in art.
If the idea of visiting this exhibition hasn’t incentivized you enough already to make your way to Colaba, you should know that the nearby Mumbai Art Room, Sakshi Gallery and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke have ongoing exhibitions too. You could combine visiting the three galleries to make for an enjoyable, art-filled afternoon.
Amshu Chukki, Kaushik Saha, Anil Thambai, Pradeep P.P., Yasmin Jahan Nupur and Sangita Maity: “Art for Young Collectors” Where: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Colaba
On View Till: July 31, 2014
As per tradition, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke is currently hosting its ongoing exhibition, ‘Art for Young Collectors’. While each artist has a unique approach and style, all the works are connected by a similar theme: “the common trail of seepage–the flowing of one system, one suite of meanings, one realm of belief into another, creating an uneasy ecology and forever changing both in the process.”
Anirban Mitra, Arunkumar H.G., Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Manjunath Kamat, Ravinder Reddy, Shilpa Gupta, Surendran Nair, Vivek Vilasini: Group Show
Where: Sakshi Art Gallery, Colaba On View Till: July 31, 2014
Don’t miss Sakshi while on your mini art excursion. This exhibition features a mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures by important contemporary artists whose works you should be acquainted with.
Anna Ostoya, Agnieszka Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Janek Simon, Rafał Wilk: “We Rather Look Back to Futures Past”
Where: Mumbai Art Room, Colaba On View Till: August 7, 2014
This is a unique exhibition that is presented in collaboration with the Polish Institute. The exhibits include photomontages, films and sculptures by five contemporary artists who share a common Polish background. While the artists explore the common theme of looking back and questioning the past, they each employ a unique individualistic approach. Not only does this exhibition give you the chance to learn more about Polish contemporary art, but it should also compel you to think about your own associations with the past.
From the Exhibition “Invisible Cities” Gauri Gill, “Hall of Technology – Diptych 1”, Archival Pigment Print, 9″ X 12″, 2010 Credits: Vadehra Art Gallery
Group Show: “Invisible Cities” Where: Vadehra Gallery, D-53 Defense Colony On View Till: July 12, 2014
If Italo Calvino popped into your mind on reading this, you’re quite close to guessing the theme of this exhibit. “They are stories of spaces that are invisible or underground, mute spaces hidden under the bustling cover of the city. They are stories of people and their relationships, of which the artist is part of”, reads the Vadehra Art Gallery press release. Featuring well-known artists and photographers such as Atul Bhalla, Gauri Gill, Sunil Gupta, Malini Kochupillai and Asim Waqif, this group show highlights aspects of cities that may otherwise remain unnoticed. Perhaps your otherwise hectic urban life doesn’t give you the opportunity to actively observe the little details that are easily missed. Don’t miss this chance to see the work of these acclaimed artists, under a single roof.
Pradeep Puthoor: “New Paintings”
Where: Nature Morte, Central South Delhi When: July 5– August 2, 2014
Pradeep Puthoor, an artist from Kerala who has shown his works in a number of galleries across India and abroad, is featuring his new mural-size paintings in this exhibition. These paintings depict the meeting point between computer science and biological engineering, and create a space for viewers to “swim in and get lost, to drown in their luscious complexities.” The unique theme and large paintings are sure to entice a wide audience, making Nature Morte an ideal gallery to visit this July.
Raj Rewal: “Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape” Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi On View Till: July 20, 2014
Did you think you missed this show? You’d be happy to know that the NGMA has extended this exhibition, giving you the opportunity to visit it this July. This retrospective features five decades of work by renowned architect Raj Rewal. The works on display will make you see architecture as a field of visual art, as structures may otherwise be judged mostly on their functionality. Of course, Rewal’s own achievements, such as his work being featured at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, make visiting this exhibition even more compelling.
“Smart Art Cart” Where: Gallery Espace, Delhi On View Till: July 31, 2014
On view and on sale at Gallery Espace are a collection of works by Amit Ambalal, Rajendar Tiku, M.F. Husain, Manjunath Kamath, Owais Husain, Suddhosattwa Basu, Mala Marwah, Mekhala Bahl, Chintan Upadhyay, S.H. Raza, and Jai Zharotia, among others.
From the Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition of Senaka Senanayake’s works Butterflies, 2014, Oil on canvas, 122 x 182.9cm. (48 x 72in.) Source: Grosvenor Gallery Website
Senaka Senanayake Where: Grosvenor Gallery On View Till: July 11, 2014
If you’re ever at Green Park this week or the next, pop by Grosvenor Gallery to take in a tropical medley of colours, all harmoniously arranged by one of Sri Lanka’s most important artists, Senaka Senanayake. The prodigal artist has been exhibiting internationally since his teenage years. His recent work is inspired by the plight of the Sri Lankan rainforests, many of which have been subject to intense deforestation to make way for tea plantations.
Nasreen Mohamedi Where: Tate Liverpool On View Till: October 5, 2014
Nasreen Mohamedi is one of the most significant women artists of Modern Indian art, and a critically acclaimed one at that. Tate Liverpool is hosting Mohamedi’s largest solo exhibition in the UK. The show includes more than 50 of her works spanning paintings, drawings and photographs, especially highlighting the most significant artistic phases in her career, and runs in parallel with “Mondrian and his Studios”, exploring how she moved from the figurative to the abstract like Mondrian. Tickets for the latter include admission into the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition.
Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One Where: The Brunei Gallery, SOAS On View Till: September 28, 2014
The UK Punjab Heritage Association has organised an exhibition to remember the invaluable contribution and experiences of Sikh soldiers during the Great War. The exhibition features rare and unique finds such as unpublished photographs and drawings, newspapers and comics, postcards, works of art, uniforms, gallantry medals, and folk songs sung by wives left at home, as well as a unique album of X-Rays of wounded Indian soldiers’ injuries lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.
London Indian Film Festival Where: BFI Southbank, ICA, BAFTA and Cineworld cinemas across London On View From: July 10-17, 2014
The London Indian Film Festival is back in town for its 5th edition. Following last year’s success, some of the best Indian independent films will be showing in several venues across London accompanied by talks with cinema personalities such as Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar and a Q&A with film directors. For the full programme, check the London Indian Film Festival website.
From the Exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art & The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room Photo by David De Armas Source: Rubin Museum Website
The Rubin Museum of Art has its eyes on the Indian subcontinent. Head there this month and combine your visits into one eventful day.
From India East: Sculpture of Devotion from the Brooklyn Museum Where: Rubin Museum of Art, New York On View Till: July 28, 2014
Given the temporary closure of the Asian art galleries at the Brooklyn Museum, this exhibition allows visitor to partake from this significant museum collection. Curated by the Rubin Museum, the objects trace the development of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures to its root in ancient Indic art. On view are selections of works from various regions including Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan, which together map the wide-spread evolution of Asian art in the regions.
Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine Where: Rubin Museum of Art, New York On View Till: September 8, 2014
This is one of the first major exhibitions which chronicle the origin, history and practice of the Tibetan science of healing. It brings to the viewers a visual narrative on the subject by presenting 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present which includes manuscripts and paintings on medical practices and medical instruments. The exhibition highlights the relationship shared between Tibetan medicine and Buddhism and how it has shaped the visual arts in the Himalayan region. In addition to the historic objects is a multi-media installation which explains how Tibetan medicine is used today and allows visitor to find out personalized health information through questionnaires, making the visit informative and interactive. There’s also a quiz online.
Curated by Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova, this exhibition gives its audience an introduction to the principal concepts of Himalayan art and its cultural contexts. Visitors are welcomed by a large multimedia map of the Himalayan region which highlights the diversity in the region. This exhibition is divided into four sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, Purpose and Function, and Tibetan Art in Context. The centerpiece of this exhibit is the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room- a recreated model for everyone to experience. This well-documented exhibition has many learning tools making it an interesting visit for a diverse audience.
Mithu Sen: Border Unseen Where: Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, On View Till: August 31, 2014
Mithu Sen’s first solo museum exhibition in the US is a massive installation in dental polymer, tracing a pink toothy line across a long prism-shaped room. This is the first of Mithu’s teeth works installed on suspended armature. The 80 feet long hanging sculpture inhabits the gallery space, its sheer scale and texture eliciting strong reactions from viewers. This monumental yet minimalist work reaffirms the artist’s exploration of the connotations of bodily materials like hair, teeth and bone in her works.
Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation Where: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Washington D.C. On View Till: August 16, 2015
This iconic exhibition chronicles more than 200 years of Indian American contributions to the U.S. The 5,000-square-foot exhibition features Indian Americans’ migration experiences, working lives, political struggles and cultural and religious contributions. Highlighted artifacts include a dress worn by First Lady Michelle Obama designed by Indian American Naeem Khan; the 1985 National Spelling Bee trophy awarded to the first Indian American winner, Balu Natarajan; and Mohini Bhardwaj’s 2004 Olympic Silver Medal for gymnastics. Public programs include performances featuring Indian American art, comedy, cuisine, dance, film, television, literature and music. The exhibition will be travelling around the US for four years beginning May 2015.
There’s plenty more out there, so don’t forget to drop by our events listing page, updated each month.