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Artist Profile1
Delving into Sudarshan Shetty’s artistic vision
Sudarshan Shetty is particularly known for his large-scale, ambitious sculpture and installation works, though he is also known as a painter who sometimes opts to combine these forms in curious object-assemblages. The artist takes apart ubiquitous objects without dismantling them, and decodes them, by revealing their inherent mechanical being. Looking to experiment with found objects in a wide array of media, the idea is to create an emotionally charged experience for the viewers. An incongruous association of objects that might bear different meanings is intended on part of the artist to form new meaning and in the process, create an abstract space for exploring the dark underbelly of the human- object relationship, the duality of free will as well as the inertness of things.

Elaborating on his artistic intentions, Sudarshan Shetty has stated: “I often find myself delving into and drawing from the unspoken, or in many cases the socially understated, which ticks beneath the surface of all human interactions. The artist relishes and embraces this predicament and revels in it. He is interested in the idea of absence - a human absence - of being elsewhere.

He quips, “I think most of us are condemned to be elsewhere. I try to define this space with familiar objects, to create a dialogue between them, which may reveal some truths about my own life to me. I find this to be the best way for having a true communication possible with the world at large.”

His artistic vision encompasses contemporary urban life. By stimulating nostalgic memories and the people’s playful mind filled with curiosity, the artist cleverly albeit subtly escapes from the phenomenon that homogenizes the world and deftly plots to do away with the existing value system.

In a way, he strives to escape from the defined social framework, and simultaneously, tries to gather scattered fragments of day-to-day life. Through the process of meticulous editing and applying these collected fragments, he then superimposes various intriguing facets of contemporary society. Explorative in medium and well as material, he explores the trajectories of human history, personal and social memory and desire, to conceive an eclectic post- modernist vocabulary.

Though formally trained as a painter, the artist became interested in sculpture and installation over a period of time, and started combining his painting skills with found objects he painted. He was part of a sculpture workshop in Scotland in 1996, resulting in spontaneous, swiftly executed watercolors imbued with sculpting skills. He sometimes collaborates with carpenters and assistants, which allows him to extend his own limits.

In the process, he questions the very idea of authorship. He is an artist who looks to spring a surprise for the viewers. It is important to challenge modes of viewership, he maintains. His imagery stems from the spoken language - a word or a phrase – which allows him to sidestep his role as image maker. This perhaps is unsettling for the viewer and introduces a somewhat edgy note to the whole process of viewing.

Born in Mangalore, Karnataka, he completed BFA in Painting from Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1980. Among his prominent shows are ‘Leaving Home’, Gallery Krinzinger, Vienna, Austria (2008); ‘Love’, GALLERYSKE and Bodhi Art, Mumbai (2006); ‘Eight corners of the world’, GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (2005); ‘Statics’, Chemould Gallery, Mumbai (2004); ‘Paper Moon’, Pundole Art Gallery (1995), among others.

His selected group exhibitions include ‘The Destruction Party’, The Royal Monceau Hotel, Paris (2008); ‘Affair’, curated by Bose Krishnamachari, 1 x 1 Gallery, Dubai (2008); ‘India 20’, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2007); ‘Unholy Truths’, Initial Access, Frank Cohen Collection, Wolverhampton, UK (2007); ‘Pink’, Gallerie Mirchandani and Steinreucke, Mumbai (2007); ‘Bombay Boys’, Palette art gallery, New Delhi (2004); ‘Configurations’, Anant art gallery, New Delhi (2004); ‘Bombay X 17’, Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi (2004); ‘Zoom’, Contemporary art from India at Culturgest, Lisbon (2003); ‘Century Cites’, Tate Modern, London (2001), and ‘Private Mythologies, Contemporary Art from India’, Japan Foundation, Tokyo (1999).

The conceptual artist’s visual language is focused on incongruous assemblages that are juxtaposed in an effort to explore new possibilities of meaning. The juxtaposition of apparently incongruous objects results in formation of a new meaning. It might not always be easy to comprehend it. But according to the artist, it is not important to understand an artwork as to have a sense of relationship with it - uncomfortable though it might be.