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British media hails Subodh Gupta


Subodh Gupta’s ‘Line of Control’, referring to the contested Kashmir border between disputed territories of India and Pakistan and the possibility of the nuclear conflict it might cause, is showcased at Altermodern: Tate Triennial, at the Tate Britain, and has received rave reviews.

Putting the work and the show in perspective, Charles Darwent of the UK Independent points out: “Globalization hasn't just swept away cultural differences; it has also made us to think of history differently. Just the way geographical boundaries do not any longer count so also historical ones. In fact, history, today, is an amorphous thing. Postmodernism, by playing around with bits of past history, made itself part of that (history). Whether or not this holds true is for you to ponder. For the purposes of the Tate Triennial, artists think it to be true. Some of the work is extraordinarily good. ‘Line of Control’, Subodh Gupta's giant mushroom cloud of pans and pots, is worth the trip alone.”

Richard Dorment of the UK Telegraph terms Subodh Gupta the star of this show. The reviewer mentions: “His ‘Line of Control’ fills a rotunda from floor to ceiling in the Duveen Galleries with a mushroom cloud-shaped column of stainless steel pots, pans and kitchen utensils in a work so visually powerful it gives you goose bumps. By making his atomic blast out of harmless implements virtually every person both in India and Pakistan uses in everyday life, the artist subverts (and therefore neutralizes) the meaning of the mushroom shape – a sign for death as universally understood as the skull and crossbones.”

The gigantic installation is made of stainless steel utensils, converting a blasé media stereotype into a poetic metaphor. The phrase, Line of Control, invariably used to denote contested borders between disputed territories world over from Kashmir to Bosnia is shorn of its limiting and limited geopolitical rhetoric to describe the invisible-yet-concrete time-space existing between want and aspiration; between dreams and reality; between realization and faith; between night and nightmare.

Subodh Gupta’s work is indeed illuminating. It makes a philosophically succinct point. Rachel Campbell-Johnston mentions in The UK Times: “Altermodern is a huge, heterogeneous exhibit of work including drawings, videos, photographs, sculptures, slide shows, soundtracks, documentaries, performances and installations by some 28 artists - from America to the Far East, from communities as marginalized as Yaoundé or as prominent as New York.

“Mostly the spectator moves through this show, his mind flickering to what soon starts to feel like the omnipresent hum, flick and clack of a continuing slide show that drops image after image on to your retina. You might wait at first for a final resolution, but in the end you will realize that this is a never-ending chain. The entire show is a continuing and constantly adapting event. I liked Subodh Gupta's vast mushroom-cloud explosion of saucepans and kitchen utensils as a metaphor of explosive encounter and its potentially prosperous fall-out.”

Altermodern presents some of the best new contemporary art in the UK. It comprises works in all media - from video and photography to extraordinary installations – with many new works being showcased for the first time. If early 20th century Modernism is characterized as a largely Western cultural phenomenon, and Postmodernism was broadly shaped by multi-cultural ideas, identity and origins, Altermodern is expressed in the language of a global culture. The artists channel the many different forms of technological and social networks offered by fast increasing lines of communication and travel in a globalized world.

The exhibit proposes a definition for a new form of art, celebrating a fresh spirit and energy in contemporary culture. The show has been put together by one of Europe's most respected curators Nicolas Bourriaud. Subodh Gupta is the only Indian artist whose work is included in the exhibition.

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