On view through the end of the summer at the Monnaie de Paris, Indian artist Subodh Gupta has orchestrated a series of large scale installations and sculptures spread throughout the halls of the famed Parisian institution, a body of work that runs throughout the artist’s focused and expressive sculptural practice. Selected pieces will be on display in conversation with the Monnaie’s permanent collection of metal artifacts to encourage reflection on the medium of metal both in terms of its symbolic value as well as the technical and artistic skill required to manipulate and bring meaning to it.
The show, which draws on the artist’s diverse and intricate investigations of Indian identity, family and social space, turns familiar objects into sprawling environments and icons, emphasizing his ability to bring forward subtle commentaries on Indian life through the materials that animate it. The range of works in the exhibition give insight into the considered use of scale, material, and “the readymade” in Gupta’s oeuvre, extending the artist’s language and its correlations to the world outside of contemporary art practice into subtle implications of context and background.
Gupta’s work with steel pots and pans is perhaps the most familiar, creating immense icons and sites from the quotidian objects. As the kitchen is the centre of every Indian household, Gupta’s practice too is grounded in the quotidian pantry, using its own material language as a site for experimentation and investigation, reflecting on not only personal and communal practices, but also on how often intimate and seemingly insignificant objects and experiences can offer a glimpse into universal relationships and connections. The pieces arranged here draw on familiar symbolisms, ones that move between Western and Eastern iconographies in fluid, shifting between them to allow slippage and a sense of mistranslation to keep the works from feeling static or overly simplistic. Just when the viewer’s understanding of the inclusion of a massive skull and its implications when constructed from pots and pans seems complete, some sense of exterior value systems or imageries seems to slip in unnoticed, keeping the works moored in a sort of negotiation between sites and languages.
What emerges, as a result, are ideas that feel abstracted from their cultural materials, as if Gupta’s attempt at a shared cultural understanding is one that is neither contained within material or within the artist’s own memories, but perhaps more importantly, in the use and expressions given by their final utilization. The act of subjective use, of translation and construction takes the foreground here, and paints a hopeful portrait of a world drawn closer by shared expression and visual experimentation.
The artist’s work is on view through August 26th.
— C. Rhinehart