Galleria Continua once again has the pleasure of presenting one of the most internationally well-known Indian artists, Shilpa Gupta.
Shilpa has engaged with art in its participatory, interactive and public dimensions for over two decades. She has persistently mapped the defining power of social and psychological borders on public life and memory. The works engage with the continued power of repressive state apparatuses, and the seductions of social homogeneity and deceptive ideas of public consensus enabled by emerging mediascapes. Thus, they make visible the aporias and incommensurabilities in the emerging national public sphere in South Asia, as well as elsewhere. Creating a visual grammar of a conceptual nature, Shilpa Gupta weaves the intensity of writing through her complex works, which include objects, performances, photographs, drawings and interactive videos.
A certain intersubjectivity which expresses itself through a conceptual and formally observed circularity - a dialectic inquiry consisting of a simultaneous physical winding and conceptual unwinding of passages, people, places or thoughts – is at the heart of both of her works included in the show. They explore human perception: the gaze is the subtext – the way in which we look at others, how we see ourselves and how we define our individual and collective identity.
For the first work in the exhibition, the artist revisits her photographic series, “Do not See Do not Hear Do not Speak” (2006), in order to create a sculpture in which three identical figures are intertwined in a circle, each concealing the others’ eyes, ears and mouths. Based on the Japanese proverb made popular by Mahatma Gandhi, the work is rooted in the context of today’s changing political landscape and recent wave of separatism – a force present in the artist’s home country, where individuals and independent agencies are often suppressed for their views. It is a work which offers a powerful reflection on freedom of expression: “Time and again, like where we are at today, voices of truth cause discomfort and stand, truncated, however the resonances stay and they continue to be heard”, notes the artist.
The second piece of the show, “Thought Inside a Thought” (2017), plays with the idea of intersubjectivity and the fact that all our thoughts come from within us and are yet not fully ours. While our thoughts are shaped by certain times and places and the unknown subconscious, they never fully commit to the moment. As the artist says, she is “constantly attracted by perception, and therefore by definitions, and by the way in which these get stretched or even transgressed”.
Shilpa Gupta (1976) lives and works in Mumbai, India where she studied sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts from 1992 to 1997. She has held solo shows at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Arnolfini in Bristol, OK Centrum in Linz, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, and Lalit Kala Akademie in New Delhi. In 2015, she presented “My East is Your West”, at the Gujral Foundation in Venice as part of the 56th Venice Biennial. Gupta has participated in the 8th Berlin Biennale; the 13th Sharjah Biennial; the Younger Than Jesus Triennial at the New Museum, New York; the ‘09 Lyon Biennial curated by Hou Hanru; the ‘08 Gwangju Biennale directed by Okwui Enwezor and curated by Ranjit Hoskote, and that of 2018 curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong; the ‘08 Yokohama Triennial curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist; the 2006 Liverpool Biennial curated by Gerardo Mosquera; the Biennials of Auckland, Seoul, Havana, Sydney, Echigo- Tsumari, Shanghai and, in 2018, in the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane.
Gupta’s work has been shown in leading international institutions and museums such as the Tate Modern, the Serpentine Gallery, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Daimler Chrysler Contemporary, the Mori Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the New Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Louisiana Museum and the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon amongst others. Her solo show “Drawing in the Dark” traveled to three European institutions in 2017: KIOSK in Ghent, Belgium; Bielefelder Kunstverein in Bielefeld, Germany; and the Synagogue de Delme Contemporary Art Centre in Delme, France. In the same year she created a site-specific project in a church in Kassel and participated at the NGV Triennial, Melbourne and the Gothenburg Biennial, whose title was borrowed from her light installation “WheredoIendandyoubegin”.
In 2018, she presented “We change each other” – an outdoor light installation in her Mumbai neighbourhood – and “For, in your tongue I cannot fit” – a solo show at the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, curated by Björn Geldhof. She also took part in the Edinburgh Art Festival. Her work has been acquired by important public and private collections, including the Asia Society, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Daimler Chrysler, the Mori Museum, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Kramlich Collection, the Caixa Foundation, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, the Astrup Fearnley Museum, Deutsche Bank, the Jerusalem Museum and the Devi Foundation.