Sudarshan Shetty

Born 1961 in Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Lives and works in Mumbai, India



Born 1961 in Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Lives and works in Mumbai, India

Sudarshan Shetty uses a variety of everyday materials to create kinetic sculptures that appear light at first sight but then lead to far-reaching reflections. At the same time macabre, playful, and seductive, his work speaks to us on an emotional level and invites us to reflect on time and space, absence and simultaneity. “I find myself delving into and drawing from the unspoken, or in many cases the socially understated that ticks beneath the surface of all human interactions. I embrace this predicament and rejoice in it. I am interested in the idea of absence, a human absence, of being elsewhere. I think most of us are condemned to be elsewhere.” In Shetty’s extraordinarily dense works, the combination of mechanical movements and found everyday objects figures significantly. By deliberately bringing together various objects, he introduces an anthropomorphic dimension to his oeuvre, which gives his pieces an emotional quality: “When I use objects in my work, I am aware of the possibilities and the problems in terms of associations and conventions that it comes with. I do this by simple strategies of juxtaposition. I bring them together in a way that the work is neither about one object nor the other but they belong unquestionably to the given construct. The familiarity and the distance that it evokes at the same time, may point to one’s interiority.” 

Sudarshan Shetty completed his BFA in painting from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 1985. Moving from painting exclusively 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 ‘A Song A Story’ for the Rolls-Royce Art Program, 2016, ‘Shoonya Ghar – Empty Is This House’, NGMA, New Delhi and at the 20.Biennale of Sydney, 2016, ‘Mimic Momento’ and others.

Sudarshan Shetty was the curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 and also a participating artist in the inaugural edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale curated by Bose. Best known for his enigmatic sculptural installations has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most innovative artists in India.