The artists, who Irina Kulik will discuss in her next lecture, have become known for assigning new forms and meanings to simple things—by transforming the mundane into the sublime, and challenging our view of the everyday.
Having lived and worked his entire life in Rio, the artist Tunga (1952–2016) followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, the key Brazilian modernist artists, Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, who had paved the way from pure abstraction to installation and object art. Tunga’s main mediums were three-dimensional constructions and performance, while his recurring theme was that of the human body in its relation to the natural and outer world. Tunga called himself an alchemist, while critics often compared his ritualistic art practices with the “shamanic” performances of Josef Beuys. He took part in half a dozen personal shows, as well as the jubilee X Documenta (1997), the Venice Biennale (1995 and 2001), and the all-encompassing survey of Brazilian art, from Baroque and Modernism to the contemporary period, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (Brazil: Body and Soul, October 200–May 2002). In 2005, Tunga became the first contemporary artist commissioned by the Louvre Museum to make an installation inside the glass Pyramid (A la Lumiere des Deux Mondes).
Subodh Gupta (b. 1964) is a contemporary Indian artist. Since the early 1980s, he has contributed to dozens of group exhibitions, and at about the same time he had his first solo show. Working with a variety of materials and mediums, some of his most signature artworks have become sculptural installations. Utilizing traditional Indian, or everyday things, Gupta creates large-scale three-dimensional objects (often executed using copper, tin, steel and other metallic utensils). An ordinary inexpensive bucket, a jar, or a plate thus become something of a Duchampian ready-made, while the sublime view and the size of the installation add to the artistic significance of the simple things they derive from. In his oil paintings, Gupta also often depicts mundane pieces of daily life in an unexpectedly aesthetic way. He lives and works in New Delhi, regularly exhibiting at New York’s Hauser and Wirth Gallery, which represents him as an artist.