Tuesday, October 9, 2012

‘The Pieces Earth Took Away’

Sudarshan Shetty’s new exhibit, entitled ‘The Pieces Earth Took Away’ takes place at Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna. In the guise of a peculiar public ‘stage’ set for theatrical mourning, an intriguing installation series further extends his ongoing interest in futility and meaninglessness, transience and mortality.

He appropriates certain ceremonial objects as well as rituals from their funereal social context, as seen traditionally, to recreate them as contemporary props, mourning a fictional death. The passing away of life here operates as a canny trope to explore the very emptiness of production.

Born in 1961 in Mangalore, this celebrated conceptual artist is known to create hybrid objects that seek to question the fusion of both Indian and Western traditions coupled with domestic preoccupations and the idea of movement. They often draw on decorative forms he employs to reinterpret the still life tradition. The Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai selected him to be part of its inaugural show of contemporary art, ‘This Too Shall Pass’ last year. His work has also been showcased at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York (2010), Gallery SKE, Bangalore (2009) and Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna (2008).

At a broader level, Sudarshan Shetty’s work reflects on the nature of contemporary Indian society and the objects that define it. The artist, born in Mangalore, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1980. Shetty completed a residenciy in 2007 at the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, USA.

Working with mechanically-reproduced multiples of common objects, the artist attempts to reveal the many meanings that lie beyond face value. In ‘Taj Mahal’, for instance, he created hundreds of miniature reproductions of the historic monument, bolted together to form a monumental block. Re-scaled and repeated, the image was transposed from its original context and meaning to become decorative, nearly meaningless.

An incongruous association of objects that might bear different meanings is intended on his part to form new meaning and in the process, create an abstract space for exploring the dark underbelly of the human-object relationship, the duality of free will as well as the inertness of things.

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