A two month solo exhibition of India's hottest contemporary artist Subodh Gupta in Beijing, titled "Line of Control", presents an illuminating body of work, including installations, stainless steel sculptures and paintings.
In the works being showcased in Beijing's Arario Gallery Sep 6 - Nov 8, Gupta tests the colonial/racial guilt and teases the consumerist desires of the 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 boundaries of time and space that exist between want and aspiration, between realisation and faith, between dreams and reality, between night and nightmare.
Gupta's giant sculpture "Line Of Control" symbolises the uneasy pressure spot that seeks to liberate mundane tension-ridden reality through a bursting mushroom cloud of kitchen utensils - wittily proposing, as it were, a cloudburst of prosperity, peace and harmony.
The New Delhi-based artist navigates his chariot of transgressions 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 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. On the other, it recalls the obscure destiny of the dabbawallas of Mumbai who manually transport wheelbarrows of tiffin boxes filled with home cooked food in a fast changing urban reality where industrially packaged food threatens to soon become the convenient norm. In this seductive formalisation of the 'moveable feast', the mantra for nirvana is a clever combination of eros and astonishment.
The exhibition also presents a seemingly simple work, "I Believe You", composed of a pair of well-worn rubber slippers in a shiny steel platter. It throws up multiple questions of identity in the modern day world.
The exhibition also includes some major canvasses by Gupta depicting stainless steel utensils in chaotic motion interspersed with blobs and ribbons of pure colour disrupting the surface of the picture. From realist interpretations, this set of canvasses have rhythm and motion traversing through them.
The invite to the show has the picture of an installation of steel plates in which are kept seven small bowls and a steel tumbler along with a small wooden planks used for sitting. It's the signature of forwarding the rural construct into the modern millennium.