Thursday, March 7, 2013

'Spirit Eaters' by Subodh Gupta at Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Thun

In collaboration with one of India’s premier contemporary artists, Subodh Gupta, Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Thun hosts his first ever institutional solo show. Besides artworks specially created for the show, many noted monumental works are on display. They emphasize very different and unique aspects of his work. Done in wide variety of media such as sculpture, painting and video, it exudes deep connection to the traditional rural and religious society.

The works that form part of the exhibition, entitled ‘Spirit Eaters’, encompass the conflict field of global and traditional values and points to their modification or perhaps even loss in a fast growing industrial society. As base material for his sculptures, the artist often uses and combines objects used in daily Indian life like dishes, ceramic vessels, bicycles etc. In the process, atmospheric images of a socially, economically and culturally complex landscape emerge.

Born in the poor Indian countryside in the state Bihar, and now based in Delhi - his journey in a way is an allegory of today's India - the growing middle class that migrated from villages to cities is clearing the path for change, embracing capitalist culture. Before his education as a visual artist, Subodh Gupta, passionate about film, was a street theatre actor. The artist is interested in what inevitably disappears in this dramatic process of change. His monumental sculptures and installations symbolize the transition from ancient Indian culture to the modern way of life.

Themes of economic growth, materialism and emigration are conveyed through ordinary objects. Steel lunch boxes, thali pans or bicycles reflect the artist's personal life and memories, apart from dealing with the Indian way of life and everyday culture. The mass-produced utensils have played a significant role in the artist’s creative processes.

The Kunstmuseum Thun in the former Grand Hotel Thunerhof is located at the centre of town, directly on the river Aare. The building was constructed in the 1870s and was the first luxury hotel built in the town. It has housed the museum on the groundfloor of the right wing since 1949.

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