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This week in Paris, Le Bon Marché revealed the latest commission in its ongoing January carte blanche series, which features works and installations by the Indian artist Subodh Gupta, on view through February 19. The eighth artist to take over the Rive Gauche department store, Gupta’s “Sangam” (Hindu for “confluence”) pays tribute to the French culture and the retail environment’s role as a conductor of cultural exchange through several artworks, assemblages, and window installations made from found vintage furniture, cookware, and other objects collected by the artist.
“I chose the reference to Sangam because Le Bon Marché is where people from all over the world meet, encounter each other and form a human river,” said Gupta. “I am proud to be part of the connection that Le Bon Marché cultivates with art. I see Le Bon Marché as more than an exhibition place, I see it as a theatre for my works. My project is a performance in which the store’s customers will play a role.”
Located centrally in Le Bon Marché, under the glass ceiling, are Sangam I (Confluence I) and Sangam II (Confluence II), taking the form of a traditional Indian pot and an enormous bucket, respectively. The larger-than-life containers (composed of aluminum cooking utensils) have been overturned and suspended, spilling down between levels an aqueous flood of mirrors, which artfully reflect their surroundings. Meanwhile, facing rue de Sévres is a series of 10 window displays from Gupta’s series Stitching the code, which nods to French culture through everyday items like an old stove, fragments of porcelain dishes, and vintage sewing machines.
On the second floor, patrons of the retail destination will find its exhibition space host to Gupta’s installation The Proust Effect. Creating a simple place that invites meditation, the compilation of metal cookware—representative of Gupta’s creative signature—has been carefully suspended from the ceiling to form the walls and ceiling of a rounded hut structure. After viewing a film divulging the creative process behind “Sangam,” viewers can leave with a special tote bag in hand, filled with an exhibition catalog featuring words by the exhibition commissioner and art critic Nicolas Bourriaud, along with a series of illustrated recipes from the artist, underscoring the cultural importance in his practice of a shared meal.
“I designed a round hut made up of very old aluminum utensils collected in markets, anonymous objects that I reincarnate as works of art. Each has its own character and has already experienced a first life, which can be seen in the traces of time marked on the objects,” said Gupta. “Utensils are simple objects, yet when combined together in my mind they speak of the complicated textures of life, nuances, lines, and shadows, like what we can see in the palms of our hands.”