Sudarshan's ceramic and wood ensembles
Gallery SKE's Sunitha Emmart always keeps me guessing about what she will unravel by Sudarshan Shetty in many of her avant-garde unveilings. At the 'AD Design Show' in Mumbai, Sudarshan's ceramic and wood ensembles open the door to multiple interpretations and makes us think about the mystery of the familiar object.
The blue and white China mementoes look like poetic constructions that blend the merging of Indian and Western traditions even as it explores domestic dynamics. Kept neatly on a wooden ledge, it offers a subtle way of looking at the relationship between an object and consciousness. The quaint installation of hybrid crockery; broken China vases that have been put back together with fragments of reclaimed teak, speak to us about symbolic representations as well the role of the vessel that carries both memories and the past.
"I have often created works that are an exploration of the internal states of being through memory and the familiar world of domestic objects," adds Sudarshan whose critical notes often quote Nirgun poets. These nine vases raise questions of the fragility of familiar objects and age-old customs, even as the artist explores possibilities of syncretism as applied to the private sphere.
"There is an old saying that broken ceramic can never be mended," said Sudarshan when he had his solo show at Gallery SKE in Delhi in 2014. " It's futile trying to redo it, but I attempt this extreme situation of bringing something back to life. And when I do it, new forms emerge. My signature style shouldn't be read into the scale of the work but what it represents."
Then you realise that the nine vases actually talk to us about varied subjects like mortality, sense of loss and broken structures. Ceramics is at the core of the concept. What Sudarshan does is invite responses from viewers, there is always a charge of joy and anticipation of encountering the visual kinetics, the poetry with materials and worker's pride in the process. While these pieces would engage without an agenda, their presence and tactile qualities are somewhat seductive on a softer side. He has often described himself as an information gatherer and often spoken of curating his art rather than making drawings from Mumbai itself and "from my day-to-day negotiation with this city." This activity is lubricated in the hybrid ensemble of fine china and reclaimed wood.
The single shelf of nine vases transforms the white cube into the interior of a home. Sudarshan gently queries the fundamental ontology of objects through his exploration of the idea of 'nakli' or 'fake.' Material translations of found objects, often with reclaimed teak wood sourced from old houses coming down in Mumbai, play on the notion that objects are always already referential. The workmanship and time embodied in these quaintly handcrafted forms draws attention to the creation of an artifice, reflecting on our inherent value systems, when perceiving the works in a museum or gallery context.