Producing 'Art' with Stones and Potatoes
Subodh transforms every day into an avant-garde practice, whereas, Vipul translates a worldwide phenomenon into porcelain and stoneware sculptures
Two artists who invoke the impact of human lives on the earth and the bounties of the earth given to man – Subodh Gupta who studied art in Bihar and Vipul Kumar who studied art in Baroda, create sculptural works which echo earth.
On one hand, Subodh transforms and elevates every day into an avant-garde practice, whereas, Vipul translates a worldwide phenomenon into porcelain and stoneware sculptures at his studio in Jaipur.
Subodh Gupta, who has been creating potatoes as a form of art in his works since 2007, has taken the humble potato and made it into a precious, coveted asset.
Earlier in 2007, he put 7 bronze potatoes in a transparent bag and hung it precariously calling it "Potato Eaters." While in 2009, at Hauser & Wirth's show – 'Common Man', his installation was entitled – Potato Ring. The 697 bronze potatoes on the metal stand seemed-somewhat surreal because they invited the human curiosity and the gaze.
After 3 years, in 2012, at Madrid, Gupta had 54 bronze potatoes-gilded with 24 karat gold and a year later, he created a seminal work called Food for Others – it was a comment on South American potatoes as immigrants-feeding the world.
In 2014, he created a fascinating wicker basket with bronze potatoes and called it 'Basket 2014'. It brought alive rural rhythms of Indian traditions and actually stirred the idea of bringing in the banal basket from the dust and heat of life into the white cube as an object of artistic discernment.
'One Gold Potato' in 2016 was a single potato placed in a perspex cube – made of bronze and 24-carat gold plated drawing attention to its curved contours.
"Only One Gold" in 2017 was a cubed glass vitrine with bronze potatoes and a single, 24-carat gold potato. The gold and bronze came together to create a still life that creates a context of affable aesthetics and raises the humble potato to an asset with Gupta's insignia.
The artist was using the idea of the potato as an object of global exchange- to create art that keeps company with replicas of perishable, interchangeable goods associated with all countries- it is a subtle statement on imports and exports and also about how the humble potato can be treated with respect.
In some ways, he was also implying the ways in which meaning and value are constructed, exploring art's capacity to withstand and channel the effects of expansion, displacement, and translation all over the world.
Porcelain and stoneware
Ceramic sculptor Vipul Kumar is a maestro at his sculptural ensembles in porcelain. His Global Warming – II is a masterpiece in porcelain. As a ceramic artist, he has been creating stoneware and porcelain for more than 15 years and his sculptural resonance is reflected in his depth of artistry and conception- his comfort at firing stoneware at an optimum of 1,250° C to 1,350° C reflects his observation and sensitivity towards climate change trends.
Trained in Baroda, Vipul has been working in ceramics since 2003 and has developed his works to finer rhythms in earth day sensitivities. What entices is his deeper probings and his insight into architectural nuances-his proportions of understanding both vertical and horizontal treatment of space, where space and materiality and the equipoise of balance can be in his treatment of surfaces.
From his lustrous porcelain in "Untitled -II" to the cracks and crevices and the beauty of both tensile thin details in his stoneware work of Global Warming I and II, he signifies melting ice caps. This adds a new dimension to his treatment of three-dimensional forms in sculptural dynamics in space.