“IT is important to look at and understand who we are and that is an aspect that keeps coming back to my art and its many elements,” said Sudarshan Shetty.
The artist was in Chandigarh on Monday evening on the invitation of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi for an audio-visual presentation and screening of ‘A Song A Story’.
Taking the audience through his artistic journey, Shetty spoke about the philosophy of some of his recent works, including ‘A Song A Story’. Moving from painting to installation early on in his career, Shetty’s art is created with a world of objects, as he uses varied materials, his love of poetry, dance, music, architecture to create a new language, one that tells many stories.
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“Why do we need to make objects and put these out? What is the function? Is there a vacuum between making and gathering of objects…There are so many opposing, yet I strive to look for co-existence of two worlds. Collecting objects around us is a representation of our own mortality,” said Shetty, with the idea being to give meaning to the process of creation.
Shetty, through the audio-visual presentation, talked about the philosophy of his work in ‘Every Broken Moment, Piece by Piece’, where he uses modern Chinese pottery, which is broken in the studio in a controlled way, and then put back in shape, using wood to give these a new form.
The artist explores the notion of loss and opposites, bringing them together. In another installation, Shetty uses old doors, to tell a story, which is written without any punctuation to talk of memory and recall.
“I collect wood, as it is a material which can be recycled, and many pieces have a story to tell, which some way or the other, flow into my work,” said Shetty.
In ‘The Pieces Earth Took Away’, Shetty devises his own rituals of death, through making objects and also looking at how a photograph can replace the idea of reality and replaces memory to re-construct and re-imagine.
Shetty draws inspiration from the Nirgun poetry of Kabir and Gorakhnath, and the work of Pandit Kumar Gandharva.
“To look backwards and find meaning in the contemporary, there are many points of mediation, and when I create structures for my installations, these of course, can be dismantled, and so along with this truth comes the truths of rebuilding and reclaiming . When I make architectural objects, I try to keep these secular.”
In his creative practice, Shetty explores how there are many objects which are seemingly opposite; with many available positions, and in the work he looks at how to bring them together and not see these separately. Playing on the idea of a narrative, one story can tell so many stories, with a number of layers and dimensions. “There are many parallel worlds, where do they meet,” questions Shetty.
The evening also saw the screening of ‘A Song A Story’, which Shetty has heard many decades back, and one he says stayed with him. Using music, architectural structures, and performance, Shetty creates a unique work. The story is about a woman who has a great story and a song inside her, but hasn’t shared them with anyone. The story and song seek revenge and turn themselves into an umbrella and pair of shoes. The work is inspired from a folk tale from Karnataka, and was created for the Rolls Royce Art Programme. Shetty is the curator of the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale, which he says has been a learning experience, one that made him look at practices beyond the art world – poetry, theatre, music, dance…The work at the Biennale is an extension of my creative practice, opening new spaces and providing fresh insights,” said Shetty.