Arario Gallery, Beijing, proudly presents the internationally renowned artist Subodh Gupta in a solo exhibition titled Line Of Control. Here Gupta presents an illuminating body of work including installations, stainless steel sculptures and paintings.
Born in Bihar, once the seat of Buddhist learning in India, Gupta now lives in New Delhi. The artist’s personal journey, from semi-rural country to the capital city, could be an allegory of the India of today, where village life is swiftly giving place to the culture of the capitalist megalopolis. As an eager and fast-growing middle class opens the way to a global culture, accelerating transformations of all sorts, Subodh Gupta tests the colonial/racial guilt and teases the aesthetic/consumerist desires of the ‘other’ Developed/Western World through his monumental sculptures and installations, created by putting together hundreds of shining stainless steel objects that reflect the short circuit between tradition and change.
The title Line Of Control converts a blasé media stereotype into a poetic metaphor. Here, a phrase invariably used to describe contested borders between disputed territories from Bosnia to Kashmir is shorn of its limited and limiting geo-political rhetoric to describe that invisible-yet-concrete time-space that exists between want and aspiration; between realisation and faith; between dreams and reality; between night and nightmare. Gupta’s giant sculpture, Line Of Control (from which the exhibition also derives its title) symbolises that uneasy pressure-spot which seeks to liberate mundane tension-ridden reality through a bursting mushroom cloud of kitchen utensils: Wittily proposing, as it were, a cloud-burst of Prosperity, Peace and Harmony. Subodh Gupta navigates his chariot of transgressions here in a cathartic pageant –that of a world constantly being lost /destroyed and yet emerging anew, reconfigured, reconstructed from its own debris.
By the invocation of the many metaphors of food and its containers, both the sublime and the sensual are never far from Subodh Gupta’s ever hospitable high table. His amazing work Start.Stop. comprises a huge, slowly moving sushi belt fitted with scores of tiffin boxes. On the one hand, this work talks about food and how it has travelled in time across seas and continents, and on the other, it recalls the obscure destiny of the dabba-wallas of metropolitan Mumbai who manually transports wheel-barrows of tiffin boxes filled with home cooked food in a fast changing urban reality where industrially packaged foods soon threaten to become the convenient norm. In this seductive formalisation of the ‘moveable feast’, the mantra for nirvana is a clever combination of eros and astonishment.
Line Of Control also presents a seemingly simple work, I Believe You, composed of a pair of well-worn rubber slippers in a shiny steel platter. Whose feet did these slippers once fit? Was he/she a wretched landless peasant running an endless race to the Big City? Or a martyr-without-cause felled by the enormity of his/her own blind belief? Or do they represent the enlightening and enlightened foot print of some saintly soul, a modern day Buddha, perhaps?
The exhibition also includes some major canvases by Gupta depicting stainless steel utensils in chaotic motion interspersed with blobs and ribbons of pure colour disrupting the surface of the picture.