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Probir Gupta’s exhibition a telling visual narrative of our times

Probir Gupta

The intellectually-stimulating show invites viewers to unpeel each layer of artworks charged with political meaning

By Siddhi Jain

December 10, 2019 (IANSlife) Inspired by the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case that had India in throes, and the Arab Spring that saw similar mass movements in another part of the world, an on-view artwork by Probir Gupta is a sharp commentary on the socio-political times we live in.

Titled “The Indian Tempest”, that uses both photography and painting, the massive work builds upon citizen mass movements that marked the Arab Spring earlier this decade, and later came to unify India in collective anguish after the Nirbhaya case. 

 

The Raft In Memory of Gericault and Noah
The Raft In Memory of Gericault and Noah 

 

Gupta’s solo exhibition titled ‘Family is Plural’, presents works of art layered with activist and political overtones, and showcases a spirit of citizen protest interwoven in the artist’s cultural ethos.

Presented by Anant Art, the ongoing exhibition in New Delhi's Bikaner House sits at the junction of personal, political and historical. It is curated by London-based art critic and writer Shaheen Merali.  

 

Indian Boat
Indian Boat

 

Through paintings, sculptures and installation work, Gupta seems to give socio-political events an artistic, thought-provoking spin.

“Talking about my personal body of work, I need to be engaged with things happening around me, with people and situations. I read news and engage with debates on various political, social or human rights issues. But, I need a direct contact. I can’t my work solely on the news that is fed, otherwise it won’t have that strength,” Gupta, who had gone protesting himself after the Nirbhaya case, told IANSlife.

 

Moss
Moss

 

“For me, above everything is humanity. I don’t like any human being to be hurt, discriminated against or to lose her/his democratic rights. Visual arts is a language of protest, I can’t give a solution to a situation. I can highlight and communicate concerns through art.”

He added that in India, speaking politics through is a sad state of affairs. “It’s a very small circuit of people who would interact with an artist about our social contemporary issues and statements.”

 

The Indian Tempest
The Indian Tempest

 

“Often I end up in conversation in people who are not art practitioners, but there is this curiosity and hunger, where they will witness works of art that will speak about our times. They know this language is complex and multilayered, but in India we don’t have that hunger yet,” the artist, who was born in Kolkata in 1960, said.
 
The exhibition runs till December 29. It is free to attend.

 

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Siddhi Jain can be contacted at siddhi.j@ians.in