July 15, 2015: The official announcement was made at the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, by the State Minister for Culture, K.C. Joseph, in the presence of State Minister for Tourism, A. P. Anilkumar, MLAs, MPs, secretaries of State, Trustees of Kochi Biennale Foundation and other dignitaries from the world of art and culture. While announcing the curator, the Minister emphasized the State’s commitment towards the Biennale. He also said that, “The biennale as a contemporary art project has renewed India’s cultural positioning and has placed Kochi and Kerala on the global cultural map.”
Sudarshan Shetty, best known for his enigmatic sculptural installations, has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most innovative artists in India. Shetty was unanimously chosen by an Artistic Advisory Committee, appointed by the Kochi Biennale Foundation for the third edition. The Committee included artists Amar Kanwar, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher and Jyothi Basu, art critic and curator Ranjit Hoskote, patron Kiran Nadar, and gallerist Shireen Gandhy, along with Kochi Biennale Foundation trustees Sunil V, Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari. The committee stated that the role of Sudarshan Shetty will be vital in furthering the social commitment, through arts, of the Biennale and the Foundation.
Sudarshan Shetty (b. 1961) completed his BFA in painting from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 1985. Moving from a painting concentration to installation early on in his career, Shetty explores the fundamental ontological challenges presented by our immersion in a world of objects. His installations are developed around a rigorous grammar of materials, mechanical exposure, and unlikely juxtapositions of things that may belong to culturally distinct spheres. Moreover, Shetty’s object language eschews narrative as well as established symbolism. He has exhibited widely in India and around the world. His recent shows include Mimic Momento, Galerie Daniel Templon, Brussels, 2015;Constructs Constructions, curated by Roobina Karode, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, 2015; A Passage, Staatliche Museum, Schwerin, Germany, 2015; every broken moment, piece by piece, GALLERYSKE, New Delhi, 2014; The pieces earth took away, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna, 2012; Critical Mass, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, 2012; Indian Highway, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2012; The Matters Within: New Contemporary Art of India, curated by Betti-Sue Hertz, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2011; Paris-Delhi-Bombay, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2011;Sympathy for the Devil, curated by Walter Vanhaerents and Pierre-Olivier Rollin, Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, 2011; India Inclusive, World Economic Forum, Davos, 2011; Contemplating the Void, curated by Nancy Spector, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2010; Vancouver Biennale, 2009, and several others. Sudarshan Shetty was also a participating artist in the inaugural edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu in 2012.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a project in appreciation of, and geared towards education about artistic expression and its relationship with society. The first two editions of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in 2012 and 2014, had a combined draw of nearly a million visitors. Drawing on the rich tradition of public action in Kerala, the Biennale has established itself as a centre for artistic engagement in India. Along with hosting the Biennale, the Kochi Biennale Foundation also conducts numerous other socially and culturally relevant art and educational projects.
Image: Sudarshan Shetty. Photo: Ronan Haughton. Courtesy Kochi Muziris Biennale.