Life, lifestyles: Subodh Gupta on his latest show : The Tribune India

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Life, lifestyles: Subodh Gupta on his latest show

Subodh Gupta’s latest show — ‘A small village, around the corner, up in a mountain’ — is steeped in nostalgia

Life, lifestyles: Subodh Gupta on his latest show

‘A small village, around the corner, up in a mountain’, a solo exhibition by prolific artist Subodh Gupta, is the debut show of Nature Morte’s Mumbai gallery, situated in the historic Dhanraj Mahal at Apollo Bandar in the culturally alive Colaba neighbourhood.



Monica Arora

‘A small village, around the corner, up in a mountain’, a solo exhibition by prolific artist Subodh Gupta, is the debut show of Nature Morte’s Mumbai gallery, situated in the historic Dhanraj Mahal at Apollo Bandar in the culturally alive Colaba neighbourhood.

‘Close to the river where wood is burning’, 2023. Images Courtesy: Nature Morte, New Delhi & Mumbai

On the choice of the title, Subodh says, “I hope to convey the memory, nostalgia, desires and struggles surrounding the stories of my village. Lots of things remind me of my village, but at the same time, when I think about my village, my town, where I come from, I think about the socio-economic, political and ecological ways my upbringing has shaped me.”

 A work from ‘My Village’ series, 2022.

Gupta was born in Bihar in 1964. He has carved a niche for himself amongst contemporary Indian artists with a global presence. He spent a large part of his formative years in travelling with a small theatre group and also acted while designing posters to advertise those plays. He completed his BFA in painting at the College of Art in Patna (1983-1988) and worked as a part-time newspaper designer and illustrator simultaneously.

 A work from ‘Inside Out’ series, 2022.

The artist’s vast body of work has been exhibited in national and international solo exhibitions in prestigious museums and venues such as Monnaie de Paris (2018); Warwick Arts Centre, UK (2017); Art Basel, Switzerland (2017); The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, US (2017); National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (2016); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Germany (2014) and Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi (2012). His iconic sculpture ‘People Tree’ is housed in the verdant lawns of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi.

Although he is trained in painting, his creations span a multitude of mediums, ranging from sculpture and painting to installation, photography, video and performance works. What defines his oeuvre is the usage of mundane elements from day-to-day life. In his works, these metamorphose into spectacular art narratives and a commentary on the dynamic socio-economic landscape of contemporary Indian society.

This ongoing exhibition is a mix of ubiquitous sculptures, paintings and wall reliefs. The familiarity lies in the usage of cooking vessels along with more objects that one often finds lying around. The humble components that make the overall structure of the multi-media installation entitled ‘Close to the river where wood is burning’ or the piece ‘A small village, around the corner, up in a mountain’, after which the show is named, are all about the artist’s trysts and discoveries with his roots in his village, and his journey that has shaped the course of his evolution as a person and an artist.

In Subodh’s words, “Utensils are simple things; however, amalgamated together at scale, they speak, in my mind, to the complicated textures of life, the nuances, lines, and shadows, as seen in our palms. And my village in some way.”

If one were to closely observe the symbology of common objects that are omnipresent in the works on view, it feels as if these creations are custodians of nostalgia and days gone by, but at the same time appear very real and contemporary. How he encapsulates people’s attitudes, cultures and lifestyles across various strata and makes one ponder over the metaphors that they represent is indeed noteworthy.

As he puts it, “It’s not just my story though, it’s yours too. When you encounter the work, how do you reflect on the utensils, how do the images speak about your upbringing? Do you remember the first meal you ate? How does it have different contexts through your life, your community, society in which you grew up? How does the way you eat a meal and the communal act of sharing it, or not, reflect a larger story of yourself?” On till March 19

#Mumbai


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