With the most extensive monographic exhibition of Indian artist Subodh Guptas (b. 1964) works staged to date in Europe, the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
is launching its new concept: the main building in Domstrasse will become the MMK 1. From now on, major solo presentations as well as highlights and classics of the collection will be on view in this venue.
The Subodh Gupta retrospective Everything Is Inside is a paradigm of the museums new programmatic orientation: to an increasing degree, the collection and exhibition programme of the MMK 1|2|3 will include perspectives of non-Western contemporary art. The survey soon to open in Frankfurt am Main will build on the artists first retrospective at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.
Gupta lives and works in New Delhi. From 1983 to 1988 he studied painting at the College of Art in Patna; meanwhile, however, he works primarily in the sculpture, photography, installation, video and performance media.
He gained world fame with his large-scale sculptural ensembles consisting of objects used in everyday life in India: stainless steel dishes, pans, milking buckets, bicycles and shopping carts serve him as materials with which he creates mega-structures. The themes of cooking and eating often echo in these installations, and are also encountered in his performative pieces. Gupta is interested in these topics as manifestations of daily cultural practice, but also as symbols of essentiality and existence. This is also evident in his performative work: five times during the show, a traditional meal will be prepared in an exhibition room especially designed for that purpose, and served to the visitors.
Again and again, Gupta alludes to socio-economic developments in his native India as well as changes brought about in the countrys everyday reality by globalization and modernization processes. In this context he depicts India as a land in which traditional values and spirituality are just as important as the consistent pursuit of modernization. His multifaceted oeuvre revolves around issues that place the local in a global context and inquire into universal values and symbols.
By employing objects of Indian life which connect peoples everyday realities across the boundaries between the urban and rural, he calls attention to the disparate and contradictory factors that have shaped contemporary Indian culture and society.
He makes elaborately polished stainless steel replicas of the simplest and cheapest aluminium cooking and eating utensils, casts ordinary bicycles and motorcycles in bronze, and has the lunchboxes used by millions of people all over the country recreated in marble in oversize dimensions. Whereas the Western viewer perceives the marble lunchbox as the elevation of a commonplace everyday object to luxury status, the Indian public recognizes in the marble a standard construction material used for the floors and bathrooms of the Indian middle class.
The materials thus bear a close connection to socio-political aspects. To an equal degree, however, they are also strongly related to the artists personal biography from its beginnings in a small rural town to his personal and professional development in New Delhi, and ultimately to his career as an internationally successful artist active worldwide. Materials such as cow dung, loam, jute, wood, bronze, marble and stainless steel are charged with meanings that have their roots in Guptas own familial, personal and social experiences and conceptions of the world.
The exhibition will encompass twenty large-scale works, among them two major installations and one performative work developed by Subodh Gupta especially for the occasion at the MMK. It will be accompanied by a comprehensive monograph on the artist.
Along with the Subodh Gupta show, a new presentation of works from the collection, spreading out over two floors of the building, will also open to the public. In the future, highlights and classics of international contemporary art will be at the visitors disposal in the post-modern architectural icon by Hans Hollein the MMK 1 on a continual basis: Thomas Bayrle, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero Boetti, Christian Boltanski, Hanne Darboven, Thomas Demand, Douglas Gordon, David Hammons, Jasper Johns, On Kawara, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Blinky Palermo, Raqs Media Collective, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Scheibitz, Andreas Slominski, Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei.