Some ‘bitter’ oil, brass and copper at Gupta exhibit

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Some ‘bitter’ oil, brass and copper at Gupta exhibit

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Subodh Gupta


When Subodh Gupta, holding a plastic soda bottle, stood beside his white marble sculpture depicting wild sea waves on a round Indian tray installed at Arario Gallery Seoul, few expected what would come next.

Pointing out the waves, the Indian artist, famous in the global art scene, told reporters, “This is a beautiful moment captured ... But I’d like to add bitterness here, as the world has it.”

He suddenly poured black liquid from the soda bottle on the marble. The liquid was engine oil, so the shining pure white sea soon turned into a sea of black stains - an oil spill.

With this brief performance, Gupta showed his ability to speak about human life and social issues using simple yet vivid imagery to the reporters who had gathered to see his first ever solo show in Korea.

The exhibition started yesterday not only at Arario Gallery Seoul but also at the gallery’s headquarters in Cheonan, South Chungcheong.

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Gupta is best known for assembling everyday objects that are used in India, such as brass, copper and stainless steel utensils, into sculptures or installations of huge scales.

Such kinds of work, including “Line of Control,” a colossal sculpture constructed of pots and pans in the form of what appears to be a mushroom cloud, will be shown at Arario Gallery Cheonan, “serving as a midcareer mini-retrospective,” the galley said in a statement.

Gupta said that he prefers kitchen utensils and ware as his work materials because he likes food and cooking.

His iconic sculpture “Everything is Inside,” which looks like a half-submerged Indian taxi with heavy baggage on its roof, is also among the exhibits in Cheonan.

The sculpture reflects the fact that many Indians move from city to city for work in such a way and is a result of Gupta’s curiosity of what is inside the luggage, the artist said in the press meeting. “It would be everything for [the relocating people], so the title has come from the thought,” he said.

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Subodh Gupta’s works including “Line of Control” (2008), made of copper and brass utensils, and “Untitled” (2010), made of stainless steel utensils, are at the Arario Gallery Cheonan in South Chungcheong. Provided by the gallery


Like his taxi installation, Gupta has been inspired by the everyday life of India. Still, he said he does not intentionally choose objects of Indian identity or try to reflect the tradition of Indian art into his works.

“It is simply about where I live and what I see,” he said, adding that he is influenced by all the everyday things surrounding him and not influenced only by things unique to India.

As for Arario Gallery Seoul, it focuses on Gupta’s new experiments rather than his signature sculptures made of metal utensils. The exhibits in Seoul include marble sculptures of enlarged everyday objects on the first floor and paintings on the second floor, which remind viewers that he was initially trained as painter.

Among the exhibits is “Nature Morte,” an installation of marble skulls reminiscent of the 17th century Vanitas (vanity) still life in Europe, on an Indian bed.

*The exhibition runs until Oct. 10 at Arario Gallery Seoul and until Nov. 7 at its Cheonan main branch. Admission is free for Seoul and 3,000 won ($2.50) for adult visitors to Cheonan. For more information, visit www.arariogallery.com or call (02) 723-6190 for Seoul and (041) 551-5100 for Cheonan.


By Moon So-young [symoon@joongang.co.kr]
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