Excavated Museum at the Mall
Manav Gupta does it again! A list of many firsts. He is truly a maverick genius – no wonder the thinker and the visionary is hailed by critics as one of the most erudite and versatile contemporary artists today. After a hundred thousand footfalls at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi a year ago at his Ganga waterfront; and taking it across the Mississippi and the Hudson in USA last year as part of his Global Public Art Project on sustainbility connecting rivers of the world, he has created an entire 'excavated museum' at the DLF Mall of India at Sector 18, Noida till February 18 with a suite of five mega environmental art installations that punctuate different spaces in the Mall.
Former Expert Committee Member of Republic Day celebrations, first artist-in-residence at the Rashtrapati Bhawan invited personally by Dr Abdul Kalam, only artist to be invited by Environment Ministry to create one-minute-films on climate change, Manav is listed by Financial Times among ten contemporary Indian artists whose works would fetch good returns.
The unique concept of environmental art in the Museum gets deeper with his underlying philosophy behind this series. He says, "Water and all five elements of nature are our source of sustainance. Ancient civilizations from India to the world over respected and understood this sanctity.While they drew nourishment from the great rivers. Be it our sacred Ganga or the Mississippi. As we grow, its time, we excavate the ancient philosophy of sustainable living. And we are all clay. Dust to dust. My art seeks to submit to this paradigm. Hence excavations in hymns of clay."
As a part of his outreach programme of evolving, site specific and dynamic multiple edition solo public art projects across the world he deploys the quintessentially Indian potter's produce of clay objects such as the earthen lamps ("diyas"), local cigar ("chilam"), earthen cups ("kullar") to transform their individual identity into metaphors and idioms of sustainability, context, perception and treatment as he conceptualizes and creates large scale avant-garde works; using the rural Indian pottery meant for everyday use, in mass numbers, he deconstructs their age old existence as units to make them lend themselves to another form, be it in a Duchamp like inverted concept or simply rendering them formless. Some of his works include:
The river waterfront
A site-specific installation with the invention of deploying earthen lamps and chilams as an iteration of their metaphors to form the lyrical formlessness of Time along the flow of the river. The multidimensional sensuousness of strands of rain pouring down against a waterfront is thought provoking as a poetic device executed with dramatic presence.
Using the earthen lamp as a metaphor, Manav explores issues of environment consciousness. Given today's world of current complex issues of treatment and perception of women as well as earth (referred to as mother earth in many quarters of Indian spirituality) the artist draws a cross spectrum reference of eroding human values using Ganga as the idiom .
The beehive garden project
Bees are an obvious or not so obvious link in the evolution chain and our sustainability. This global beehive garden project is an environmental
statement by the artist about biodiversity and its crucial linkages to sustainable development. Manav's art has always sought to play a bigger role than itself, in creating greater awareness on environemnt. And it reaches our senses and homes as a captivating reminder with its innovative deploying of "chilams" (earthen rural cigars) and "kullars" earthen cups to create beehives that can occupy every garden and home that keep acting as a gentle creative reminder to us each day to stop a while… and while doing what we are doing, try and add a drop in the ocean in the preservation of bees and biodiversity.
Meet me by the riverside –The bed
Love is what makes the world go around. The artist makes an intimate statement of love through the use of the male and female idioms of existence and how fragile love can be and yet so ethereal. Another dimension of sustainable development.
With the river bed of earthen lamps and earthen cups, a stream seems to emerge from somewhere deep within and flow seemlessly pouring over. The bed is symbolic of history, of love and of a certain hope that the statement 'meet me by the riverside..' evokes.
Called the 'excavations in hymns of clay,' this is the premiere of his 2017 edition that also happens to celebrate the twentieth year since his first solo at the Birla Academy of Fine Arts inaugurated by three prominent figures from Kolkata.