A Look At Subodh Gupta’s Grand Kinetic Sculptures On Display At Nature Morte, Delhi
- 7 Mar '22
- 3:51 pm by Nuriyah Johar
Subodh Gupta’s latest show at Nature Morte, Delhi, strikes a dialogue between the found and the built. The artist, who is best known for his work with ubiquitous objects such as mass-produced steel utensils presents three installations that reveal his interests in the passage of time.
Created in 2018, “Cosmic Battle” is the premiere showing of a major new work by Gupta. The pièce de résistance features a large semi-sphere which revolves slowly, presenting itself to the viewer in multiple forms. The sculpture is suspended from the ceiling, just grazing the floor; it interacts with the space around it to be physically commanding, overwhelming in dimensions and materiality, but also ephemeral and elusive due to its reflective surfaces, enveloping darkness, and hypnotic rotation. Given its infinite cycle of internal revolutions, the viewer’s perception of the piece will depend on how their eyes adjust to light and opacity inside it. The presence is both celestial and yet intimately human, timeless and quotidian, excessive and agile.
The second installation is a new work by Gupta Entitled “Self-Portrait”, 2022. The piece serves as almost an antithesis to the one that precedes it; appearing as if a number of the artist’s sculptures have crash-landed to earth, their parts lying in ruin. Through the chaos, however, the work evinces a surprise and signs of life are noticed, as it breathes deeply, creaking and moaning over the remains of railway tracks, that connect Gupta back to his memories of growing up in a railway colony. “For the Self Portrait, I did many experiments,” says Gupta. “Even though the work was realized two years ago, it is only recently that I could complete it by making it into a kinetic sculpture and allowing it to breathe. It is inspired by ritualistic traditions that impacted me while growing up. For example, in some of the religious ritual offerings in India, you make a platform with red bricks, you draw rangoli on it, on top of which you place the utensils. I believe in India we did not grow up going to a museum and learning Modern art history, everyday rituals were the sites of learning and artistic inspiration.”
Lastly, a third, recent work entitled “Torso” completes the narrative. It is that of a figure in a state of decomposition – classical in stature, yet vulnerable to the elements of nature. The self-cast bronze torso is anchored to a plinth made from the same railway tracks from the artist’s hometown. Speaking of his creative process, Gupta says, “Torso (2022) is a bronze cast sculpture inspired by the visionary sculptor Rodin. I am not as skillful a sculptor as Rodin, so I decided to cast just the torso part of my body. I am interested in how sculptures from pre-modern times we see in the museums are broken and often headless. I felt as if I found something in this headless form. Mushrooms and plants were added later. I was pleased that these additions brought new meaning to the work. The pedestal for this sculpture is made from the remnants of the railway track from rural India. I come from a family of Railway employees. In this way, each material that contributed to the work and the exhibition embodied a story from my life.” Through his show, Gupta manipulates the accoutrements of everyday life to capture a multitude of definitions and circumstances that characterize contemporary India.
Cosmic Battle is on view at Nature Morte, Delhi until April 10, 2022.
Video Credits: Courtesy of the Artist and Curious Comet Collective