by Dilpreet BhullarSep 17, 2022
Entering the Dhan Mill compound in Chattarpur, a little further towards the end we find ourselves standing in front of Delhi’s prominent art gallery, Nature Morte. A quick sneak peek through the large windows and you shall witness a shiny, reflective, golden sculptural installation piece in the middle of the open gallery space. With its golden aura interacting and consuming the space, the work makes one feel a lot like walking into a golden treasure vault. Well, if there’s someone as obsessed with creating gigantic steel sculptures in India, it’s none other than Subodh Gupta, and the new large scale installation art is from his latest exhibition, Cosmic Battle.
Through this art exhibition, the contemporary artist expands his sculptural language into a total environment. The Cosmic Battle is a humongous steel pot (handi), suspended from the ceiling, just a knee-high distance from the floor, presenting itself to the viewer in multiple guises. Gupta has gone for it in creating the steel and brass semi-sphere with a found stone in its centre. The work incorporates steel, brass, pigment, motor and found stone that blends perfectly with the space around it - physically commanding it, overwhelming in dimensions and materiality, but also ephemeral and elusive due to its reflective surfaces, enveloping darkness, and hypnotic rotation. Over the years, Gupta has remained true to his signature style with stainless steel, and seemingly minor changes which we see in this latest art exhibition. The works appear to pique the viewer’s curiosity when their eyes adjust to light and opacity inside the work. What hasn’t changed is the fact that the Indian artist’s work still carries a refreshing trait in the art world.
When one can’t help but feel overwhelmed with the golden celestial installation, alongside in the gallery’s side room, will be another highlight of the show entitled Self-Portrait, 2022. This work appears to be even tougher; the viewer is compelled to examine every aspect of the sculptural work that appears as if several Gupta sculptures have been spread out and dishevelled. Born in Khagaul, Bihar (1964), the visual artist’s “work conceals a surprise and signs of life are discernable 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,” mentions the press statement.
The third work from the solo exhibition that takes this exhibition into stardom, is entitled Torso, and was recently created. Torso, as the title suggests, is a sculpture of a human figure in a state of decomposition. Classical in stature, yet vulnerable to nature that is beginning to colonise its form. The self-cast torso in bronze stands anchored to a plinth made from the same railway tracks from his hometown.
Gupta is known to work with ubiquitous objects such as mass-produced steel utensils, found routinely as part of household kitchens throughout India. Together, this triptych of works reveals Gupta’s interests over time, the experience of the self-concerning the body and its material language, thus continuing the connections between the artist's inner life and the works he creates.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Assistant Editorial Coordinator (Arts))