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Sudarshan Shetty's 'Statics'

Though formally trained as a painter, Sudarshan Shetty developed keen interest in sculpting and installation art, and increasingly began to combine his paintings with found objects, which he painted. In fact, they now form a major part of his artistic output. He molds everyday objects -it could be a glass-topped table or a wrought iron chair - into extraordinary works of art. For his new series of works, he has chosen to isolate certain objects, and has cleverly manipulated them, even as seeing them as a whole.

The artist's latest installation series featuring small works titled 'Statics' is on view at Chemould Art Gallery. The show hosts banal objects, whose surfaces are manipulated, in his words, to re-define their function or rather, the expectation of their specific function. Thus, you get to see a plastic melon with razors stuffed into it, an atlas globe on a table albeit with black velvet covering its spherical surface (making it unreadable) and a chair with wooden eggs stuck to its seat.

Shetty's art is deliberately subversive. His work envisions a lyrical world full of playfulness and freedom liberated from political issues. Drawing on readily available materials and images from the established order he sets them up in bizarre, irrational combinations. In this way he creates a storehouse of idiosyncratic fantasies, whose appeal to private memories and meaning hint at an alternative reality, unencumbered by institutional control.

The artist strives to escape from the social framework, and at the same time, tries to collect scattered fragments of daily life. Through the process of editing and applying these (fragments), he superimposes various facets of contemporary society. His art-world reflects contemporary urban life. He has said in an interview: "The intent is to create an emotionally charged experience, that emerges through the juxtaposition of different objects. I put together objects that do not hold the same meaning that they may otherwise hold. The coming together of meaning creates an abstract space."

As art critic Anupa Mehta notes: "Over the years, he has experimented with found objects, in Duchampian mode, and a variety of mediums to release his art from the bondage of traditional media. His work is marked by sophistication. 'Statics' communicates a pristine emotion. An emotion that is heightened by the intimacy of the displayed objects, that only serves to enhance the tableaux-like arrangement, which allows one to read the show as a set piece.

At another level, this compact exhibition is virtually an altarpiece; an environment crafted out of the labyrinth of Shetty's mind. The underlying Statics is that of an artist who indulges in a rare kind of poetry. Brevity of emotion through is not easily achievable. Shetty's work manages to strike a rich cord." 'Statics', as the artist puts it, is small works. Working on a smaller scale, here he has made an effort to use his installation art as sculpture. The outcome is an honest assortment of tables with guns, and other surprises thanks to domestic abuse, a la Shetty. Of course, he wouldn't like to say in implicit terms that his work is entirely about the violence inherent in domestic or interior spaces, and would leave it to viewers' senses to interpret it.

This perhaps forms the essence of the show. In 'Statics' the individual viewer can relate to the works and derive the meaning from them. The artist explains to say: "I am primarily working with re-defining form and function by working with surfaces. It is about banal objects and how their surfaces can have varied meaning. People can sit on the chairs if they wish to." In this respect, his latest body of work is slightly different from his earlier ones. It is not in motion, as it usually is. On contrary, he would rather want the audience to move around the exhibit.

The marked feature of Sudarshan Shetty's work is that it displays an intriguing combination of the representational and the abstract. The impalpable and mysterious images induce reflection and association. According to the artist, his inner state reflects in his work. It is very much a part of his work in many ways, though it may not be the headline of the work. For instance, one of his recent exhibitions was also a response to his father's illness because I was spending a lot of time in the hospital before he passed away.

'Statics' by Sudarshan Shetty at Gallery Chemould (Above Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda) continues till August 27.

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