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Paris based Yvon Lambert hosts Shilpa Gupta
Shilpa Gupta is an internationally reputed new media artist from India who creates intriguing works using canvas, video, photography, interactive website elements and performances. In the process, she subversively examines themes such as burgeoning consumer culture, labor exploitation, human rights abuse, religion and excessive militarism.

Galerie Yvon Lambert unveils her new series ‘Familiarize Yourself with the Nearest Exit’. Yvon Lambert launched the gallery in Paris more than four decades ago and one in New York six years ago as part of an endeavor to promote talented artists on international arena.

Born in 1976 in Mumbai, she did her B.F.A. (Sculpture) from Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts, Mumbai (1992-97). She was a recipient of the Transmediale Award, Berlin (2004); Sanskriti Prathisthan Award, New Delhi; International Artist of the Year courtesy South Asian Visual Artists Collective, Canada; and Leonardo Global Crossings Award, Runner-up (2005).

The artist has featured in the show ‘Chalo! India’ at Essl Museum, Austria; ‘The World is Yours’ at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; ‘The Generational: Younger than Jesus’, New Museum, NY, and ‘Still Moving Image’ at Devi Art Foundation, Delhi. She also received spontaneous response to her exhibitions ‘Second Moon’ at Galleria Continua, Milan and ‘While I Sleep’ at Le Laboratoire, Paris. Her Net art Commission from Tate Online ‘blessed-bandwidth.net’ (2003) won her numerous accolades.

Shilpa Gupta’s wry and often ironic take on serious issues prompts viewers to introspect. She wants them to be part of her work. For example, one of her interactive new media installations invites them to manipulate a large wall projection. It features several figures in fashionable camouflage clothing engaged in various poses.

The absurdity of their gestures and costumes recall both the mimicry games of childhood and the unforgiving rigor and conformity of military drills. In enabling the viewer as a participant, the work comments upon the dwindling power of individual reason in the face of 'mindless violence' rooted in fundamentalism and imperialism.

The skilled new media artist has produced politically charged and socially relevant creations. Analyzing her work, a curatorial note to the latest show at Galerie Yvon Lambert mentions: “The talented young artist examines religion, the ‘psychology’ of fear, and notions of security.” She is interested in notions of perception, and uses interaction as a means to invite the viewer to participate in exploring this, such as in her work on show entitled ‘Threat’. In this sculpture piece, hundreds of pieces of body washing soap have been embossed with the word ‘threat’. Viewers are invited to take a piece of soap home to be used.

Elaborating on her art practice and philosophy, she has stated, “Art functions as a space for individual opinion, especially in a time, when visual imagery around us seems to be dominated with either political or corporate propaganda. Artists tend to be far more reflective and also somehow quite critical, in a world, which finds it convenient to just look the other way.”

However, Shilpa Gupta does not want to position herself as a feminist in a typical hierarchical way. Rather she sees art as an everyday, ordinary phenomenon, and how she negotiates herself in this daily activity. She projects herself as the protagonist because, according to her, ‘I’m the cheapest actor (available) for my project.’

The artist’s empathy towards the situation in Kashmir is evident in many of her pieces. Over the years, several of her projects have touched on the India and Pakistan conflict, and the resulting loss of life in the disputed Kashmir. In the video installation ‘Hardly Bear to Speak’ four monitors show the portraits, which are vibrating, of the four judges appointed to determine the division of India and Pakistan. The relationships were so tendentious, however, that the judges ‘could hardly bear to speak to each other’, leading to a deadlock.

Importantly, her approach to the subject of war is universal. Thus the viewer is often able to relate to her pieces in terms of all conflict in the world. Shilpa Gupta’s tenacious and thought provoking work traverses cultural borders as she permits the more dangerous contents of the mind, as well as private and collective fears, to take form as art.