Artist Spotlight: Shilpa Gupta


We are pleased to dedicate this artist spotlight to Shilpa Gupta (b.1976 lives and works in Mumbai, India). We have been avid collectors and supporters of Gupta's work since we started the collection in 2011 and have some very important examples of her practice. We have made her works available to the public through a long term loan of our sound cloud work to the ZKM in Karlaruhe, and several short term loans, among other of two of her works for the exhibition "Luther and the Avant Guarde", Kassel, during Documenta 14 in 2017.

Since we started collecting Gupta, her career has been on a continuous ascent and she is regularly included in important institutional exhibitions. In 2019 she held exhibitions at the Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai (a two-person solo with Zarina) as well as over a dozen group exhibitions, including the 2019 Asian Art Biennial, the Biennale Arcipelago Meditteraneo in Palermo and the 58th Venice Biennale “May You Live in Interesting Times”, where she exhibited two major installations. 

Gupta graduated with a degree in sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts in 1997. Her artworks incorporate diverse mediums such as video, photography, sculpture, performance, and sound. She is interested in human perception and particularly how information is transmitted in everyday life, whether visible or invisible. Her artworks often involve the viewer's active participation.

Installation view Shilpa Gupta, Blind Stars Stars Blind, 2008

From the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, the 2008 artwork “Blind Stars Stars Blind” is a glistening 4-meter circle. The ring is made of a string of small lights spelling out in cursive “Blind Stars Stars Blind”. The halo powerfully looms over viewers as they look at the subtle details above, like gazing at stars. The lights alternate and the sculpture reads "Stars Blind" and soon after "Blind Stars".

Installation view Shilpa Gupta, Untitled (Heat Book), 2009

Observing something larger than life provokes comparing and contrasting what you see, from what you know.  The slow flashing on and off of a string of small lights that stand out above the stage, spelling out the words BlindStars StarsBlind, evoke a piercing sense of melancholy: beauty and power, frailty and impermanence seem to be the keynotes of our existence.

Gupta’s performative sculptural work “Untitled (Heatbook)” presents what at first seems to be a commonplace book on a pedestal. However, below the book is a heating element, which makes the book dangerously hot. This piece speaks of things hidden just below the surface. It also references the incendiary qualities of sacred books in different cultures

Installation view, from Left to Right, Shilpa Gupta, I Keep Falling at You, 2010, and Untitled (Heat Book), 2009, Luther and the Avant-Garde Documenta 14, Stiftung fur Kunst und Kultur, Bonn, Germany

A monumental artwork in the Tiroche DeLeon Collection by Shilpa Gupta is “I Keep Falling at You”, 2010. The sculpture is composed of a massive bundle of over 1,000 microphones. The towering sculpture hangs from the ceiling like a cluster of grapes hanging from a vine. Gupta has rewired the microphones changing their function to be loudspeakers. The bunch of microphones play a multichannel sound and speech composition.

But I keep falling at you (chorus, repeat)  
Your garden is growing on me
I will take it away with me  
To a land which you can mark no more
Where distances don’t grow anymore  
I keep falling at you
But I keep falling at you (chorus, repeat)

Professor Peter Weibel explains, “The piece is a symptom of our media age: A dark cloud of microphones like angry bees, which follows public figures from politicians to actors every minute and penetrates every privacy. This cloud of media can elevate a person or destroy a person. Therefore, the work by Gupta is extremely poetical and critical at the same time, a paradox, which is only possible by the great dignity of an artwork.”

2020 looks like another busy year for Gupta who is currently preparing for 2 institutional solo exhibitions at the Curve Gallery, Barbican, UK and Dallas Contemporary, USA. 

We are pleased to have been custodians of such great artworks. As our collection draws closer to its 10-year maturity, we are hopeful that they find their way into important collections that continue to make them available publicly.