One of the world’s most avant – garde  galleries , Galleria Continua decided to debut in Paris with Subodh Gupta’s migratory exhibition that dwells on memories, nostalgia, desires and struggles that permeate the stories of the artist’s home country, India.

In Gallerie Continua’s celebration of 15 years in the art world, installation genius Subodh Gupta has carried the Indian village replete with vessels and handis and oil on linen paintings all the way to Paris.

Glistening vessels

Gupta’s titles are allusions to a journey of history, desire and memory. Identity on our shoulder 2107 created with brass and jute rope is the piece de resistance of the show. The sparkling flat bottomed handis used to make Indian curries ,biryanis and pulaos and rice and lentil, stacked on top of each other present a sight of resonance and gravitas.At once we think of the power of rituals old and young we think of yatras of monks from yesteryear and the beauty of Bhakti. Unconsciously Gupta coalesces the cosmic and the conscious. The vessels have their own insignia and create multiple corollaries.

“The humble vessel belongs to Indian tradition,” states Gupta. “It has many references to its status in Indian society. It is both formal and informal. It at once gives us cultural conversations that bring in the dynamics of economics, politics and the beauty of traditions. With the handis put in a pile I’m sharing the story of my village, it is personal as well intimate.”

Gupta has always said his installations are open to interpretation. We created in 2018 made of wood and brass and cement and found objects has a pail and a south Indian water container which seems rather Dravidian ,in Malayalam in Kerala we call it kindi. It is the shape and the spout that are both primitive yet deeply iconic in tone and tenor. In this case the found object turns into a commentary of ritual and relic and vessel.

Magic of materials

Gupta’s ideas take shape in a variety of different media, such as steel, bronze, marble and paint. Materials are encountered for their aesthetic properties and as conceptual signifiers carrying a wealth of connotations. The mass-produced utensils that have played such a prominent role in Gupta’s art offer an ambiguous symbolism: whilst they are seen by those in the West as exotic and representative of Indian culture, to those in India they are ubiquitous items, used daily in almost every household.

In these installations we see that  Gupta is harnessing  hybrid associations, and adding  resonance in the viewer’s mind while the materials he uses are both subject and object. The tall installation using wood and smaller handis as well as other found objects seeks to create a meditation on the walk up the mountain. Little by little, over the years we have seen  Gupta invading private collections with his monochrome signatures which tells of life, its challenges and its dramas, with the silent sequence  of a novel tale.

Oil on linen

The oil on linen paintings in Gupta’s oeuvre  feature utensils as the central character in a choreography of texture and timbre. These harness childhood memories in his mother’s humble kitchen in Bihar, his memory of  eating food  using innumerable thalis and carrying the  tiffin of food for his father who worked in the railway. The suite of My Village  paintings are both poetic and pensive because they are meditative islands  of metal and light.

They show stainless steel kitchenware and utensils in a state of still life sequences, their photorealism rendered surreal by the tints of utilitarian utopias as Gupta in a subtle way ties them to the tradition of still life painting and adds texture with the khaki toned linen.

The show at Galleria Continua in Paris will evoke responses that are born of deep reflective moments of solitude and study. It presents the artist’s vision of life, which is made up of abstract elements, everyday objects, noise and silence. “In some way, it is my village.” Subodh Gupta concludes.

GALLERIA CONTINUA celebrates the 15th anniversary of Les Moulins, its first space in France.

The exhibition, entitled My Village, .the olfactory design was entrusted to Amélie Jacquin, perfumer at Givaudan.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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