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Artist Profile2
Probir Gupta’s artistic concerns come to the fore at a solo in London’s Alexia Goethe
Probir Gupta belongs to the city of Kolkata. He witnessed a restless period of intense socio-political social turmoil, an outcome of the Maoist Naxalite movement, which peaked in the early1970’s. It deeply affected the thought process and mindset of the then youths.

No surprise, his creations lean towards political activism. In his compositions (both sculptural and paintings on canvas) he expresses his disgust over prevailing political situation and does not hide his involvement with human rights issues and depicts the constant struggle for justice and equality.

The violence of the revolutionary movement did not appeal him, but the issues highlighted by the then political ideology lingered in his mind and became a burning concern for him as an artist. He started to explore the possibilities of the visual medium for responding to this civil strife.”

Probir Gupta’s diverse creations reflect his involvement with issues related to human rights. The artist has been involved in human-rights activism and has collaborated with NHRC, the UN and several NGOs. He has devised mass projects to combat in particular violence against women.

The artist explains: “Trafficking for prostitution, dowry, child labor and other such things figure in my work. Equally disturbing are issues of discrimination, political oppression, genocides and racism that keep happening all around you.”

Putting his work in proper context, at this critical juncture in human history, a curatorial text by Shukla Sawant notes, “When invisible forces of power are trying to devise newer menacing forms of utter social repression, the artist and his work stand out as a rare independent voice of dissent.

A recurrent theme in Probir Gupta’s work has been presenting a critique of organized state violence under the garb of progress. His recent suite of work in the form of paintings and installations again pushes this very concern to the forefront.

Through his new set of work, he questions the structural strength of our democracy as it quivers and looses balance in response to the invisible voice of a controlling master who decides what is right and what is wrong for the world at large.”

His work tends to dwell on negativities of life and the world like terror and oppression – emotions experienced by the hapless souls caught in the conflict; like those during periods of colonization. The constant provocation which comes from a city life which he finds, as a human being, disgusting, has initiated him to the concept of the urban jungle and its mannerisms.

He elaborates: “This is exactly where I have accepted to live and combat also as an artist. So I get deeply affected and react with equal aggression in my canvases and installations.”

Probir Gupta first studied at the Government College of Art & Crafts, Kolkata (Painting & Murals) and later joined Ecole Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux Arts, Paris (Painting). Among his noteworthy solo exhibitions are shows at Academy of Fine Arts Kolkata (Gallery Anant, 2007); ‘To Whomsoever it May Concern’, Bodhi Art, New York (2007); ‘Transparencies in Black & White’, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2003); Aparao Galleries, Chennai (1999); solo by 12 Indian Contemporary Painters, Paris (1998); ‘Works on Wood’, Galerie Espace, New Delhi (1994); ‘Walls of Kolkata’, Galerie Espace, New Delhi (1993); ‘Paintings on Textiles’, Gallery Ganesha, New Delhi (1992); Galerie Paul Cavalier, Paris (1992); Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata (1991), among other shows.

He has featured in many significant group exhibitions, including ‘The Audience and the Eavesdropper - New Art from India and Pakistan’, Philips de Pury, London (2008); ‘Private / Corporate IV’, Daimler Chrysler Contemporary Berlin (2007); 34th International Artists Symposium, Borsos Mikolos Museum, Hungary (2002); International Artists Exhibition, Egyptian Cultural Center, Vienna (2002); Retrospective Exhibition from the collection of Alliance Francaise, New Delhi (2002); Gallery East, Freemantle, Australia (2001); ‘Contemporary Artists from Bengal’, FARR & Open Window at Birla Academy Kolkata (2000).

Alexia Goethe, featuring his works, has been an avid collector and dealer of art since 1988. Her passion for art culminated with the decision to open Alexia Goethe Gallery in June 2005. Incorporating an astute knowledge of the art world with a passion for developing contemporary artists, Alexia Goethe Gallery strives to exhibit a wide array of new and engaging works to the broader public. The body of work created for the new exhibition at Alexia Goethe responds to the situations that the artist finds himself in on a recurring basis as the forces of ‘progress’ in India have been rather imbalanced in their dispensation of the gains of rapid economic growth.