Time Machine

Manav Gupta, Hourglass, Time Machine, Art and Sustainability, Climate Change, Environment Consciousness, Manav Gupta Artist, Manav Gupta Installations, Paintings, Works, Indian Contemporary Art, Sculpture, Manav Gupta Sculptures and Installations, Water, Time, Pottery

time machine

2012 - 2024

Excavations in Hymns of Clay

we're all clay,
dust to dust.

time machine

With the first of its kind use of the potter’s produce of earthen cups to form the hourglass; the artist engages the audience with Time and its ethereal and transient passage. Clay, a naked, earth symbol of existence, resource and sustainability and the cup as the metaphor of Time’s limitedness draw us to explore how we use our resources.

The fragility of clay juxtaposed with the limitedness of the “cup of Time” draw an engagement to our waste, perception, passage and interface with Time and Life itself in a rapidly mechanised, capitalistic, consumerist human interaction with earth along our limited timelines of life.
The introduction of Light within, by the artist, celebrates the awakening of our consciousness and its potential of Hope.

This sculpture – installation is philosophical and spiritual, teasing subtle nuances of human intelligence and its emotional quotient on one plane, while at the same time, simple, elegant graceful and celebrating the public engagement with art itself – the exciting possibilities of the potters produce as evolved artistic practice made brilliantly simple by the artist for mass consumption.”

time machine

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time machine

First Iteration: Hourglass

2012

Studio Lab

Excavations in Hymns of Clay

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2014

time machine

Second Iteration: Hourglass

WorldMark, Aerocity, IGI T3 Airport Area

Unsung Hymns of Clay

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2017

The Yamuna Project

Excavated Museum in a Mall

time machine

Third Iteration: Hourglass

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2017 - 2018

time machine

Fourth Iteration: Excavated Museum | Time | Prosaic can be Luxury

Sculpture Garden Prototype

Amrita Shergill Marg, New Delhi

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2018

time machine

Fifth Iteration: the sound of AUM

arth - art for earth

IGNCA, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India

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Photographed by the artist.

the time machine

“The artist engages the audience with Time and its ethereal and transient passage. Clay, a naked, earth symbol of existence, resource and sustainability and the cup as the metaphor of Time’s limitedness draw us to explore how we use our resources. The introduction of Light within, by the artist, celebrates the awakening of our consciousness and its potential of Hope.”

the time machine

WorldMark, Aerocity, IGI T3 Airport Area, New Delhi, India

“The artist engages the audience with Time and its ethereal and transient passage. Clay, a naked, earth symbol of existence, resource and sustainability and the cup as the metaphor of Time’s limitedness draw us to explore how we use our resources. The introduction of Light within, by the artist, celebrates the awakening of our consciousness and its potential of Hope.”

Time Machine

Excavations in Hymns of Clay

the Sculpture Garden Prototype

Manav Gupta, Hourglass, Time Machine, Art and Sustainability, Climate Change, Environment Consciousness, Manav Gupta Artist, Manav Gupta Installations, Paintings, Works, Indian Contemporary Art, Sculpture, Manav Gupta Sculptures and Installations, Water, Time, Pottery
Manav Gupta, Hourglass, Time Machine, Art and Sustainability, Climate Change, Environment Consciousness, Manav Gupta Artist, Manav Gupta Installations, Paintings, Works, Indian Contemporary Art, Sculpture, Manav Gupta Sculptures and Installations, Water, Pottery

Exploring Identities in Clay

November 29, 2014 | Times of India | Uma Nair

Clay has multiple possibilities and Delhi’s Manav Gupta unveils numerous installations in his explorations in clay. One of India’s most erudite and versatile contemporary artists, Manav Gupta has reinvented the language of clay by infusing true originality of thought and treatment in the humble produce of the potters wheel – deploying and transforming the readymade clay objects of everyday partisan use in India like the earthen lamps, cups and “chillam” – the Indian rural humble cigar into sustainable development metaphors of  large scale installations.

He has been working all of this year on his mega show of Public Art that would punctuate multiple public venues beginning with the first set of installations that are now ready at Aerocity where he has been creating artworks for an entire building near the T3 International Airport in Delhi

Clay for him is earth and its five elements. Lending new meanings of form to humble clay objects he intersects environmental consciousness with the real wealth that is earth; inverting the objects themselves into Duchamp like new identities that explore the concept of time and sustainable development, Life and love and human existence and the way of life of the ever pervading consuming mega metropolis.

Much before climate change became drawing room conversation and awareness gathered momentum, Manav has been engaging with environmental consciousness since the past two decades; The artist has carved a niche for himself globally, inculcating his concern and respect for environment and his own contemplation of spiritual and the natural communion, his strength and sensibilities that he draws from Nature in his works right since the very beginning of his art journey.

Having worked on Ganga as the RIVER and RAINFORESTS as his calling for many years in his paintings and after his three traveling trilogies in recent years to Middle East U.S. and Europe with solo exhibitions at Amherst, M.A., New York, Des Moines, Iowa, San Francisco, C.A. Berlin, Germany and London, U.K., Muscat, Oman, that fetched him international acclaim, he adopted clay objects as his medium of transformational evolving language of installations to take his engagement with above further.

The first suite of works premiered from his clay series “unsung hymns of clay” at the National Museum in South Africa, hosted by the Indian High Commission that became a part of the outreach for BRICS Summit receiving widespread critical acclaim.

This year marks a full blown mega series that he has been intensely working on since then, engaging with multiple venue public spaces across the globe, beginning with Delhi.

Ganga using Diyas and Chillams

BBC, December 15, 2014

मिट्टी के दिए, चिलम और कुल्हड़ से बना गंगा नदी का अद्भुत नज़ारा.

ख़तरे में पड़े पर्यावरण की तरफ़ सबका ध्यान खींचने के लिए कलाकार मानव गुप्ता ने एक नायाब तरीका निकाला.

उन्होंने दिल्ली में हुए अपने शो में मिट्टी से बने हुए दिए, चिलम और कुल्हड़ में गंगा नदी का नज़ारा दिखाया और अपनी बात भी कह डाली.

मानव गुप्ता को फ़ाएनेंशियल टाइम्स ने भारत के 10 कलाकारों की फ़ेहरिस्त में शामिल किया है.

समीक्षकों के अनुसार वे एक आधुनिक कलाकार हैं जो बहुत ही प्रतिभाशाली और अपने काम में निपुण हैं.

मानव इस पूरे साल अपने इस पब्लिक आर्ट के शो के लिए काम करते रहे.

मानव गुप्ता कोलकाता में पले बढ़े जहां गंगा नदी थी.फिर वो दिल्ली आए जहां उन्हें यमुना नदी दिखी. गंगा और यमुना के प्रदूषण को देखकर ही उन्होंने इस प्रदूषण के प्रति लोगों का ध्यान खींचने के लिए कुछ सोचा.

एक ज़माने में खाली बोतल में संदेश भेजा जाता था. मानव ने मिट्टी के चिलम से यह बात पेश की.

मानव गुप्ता दक्षिण अफ्रीका गए जहां उन्होंने मिट्टी की कलाकृतियों से ‘गंगा नदी’ को दिखाया जो वहां के लोगों को बहुत पसंद आया.

मानव अब चाहते हैं की साउथ अफ़्रीका से हुई अपनी शुरुआत को वो हर जगह ले जाए और ‘गंगा नदी’ का महत्व सबको समझाएं.

समय बताने वाली ‘रेत घड़ी’ को मिट्टी से बने कुल्हड़ों के ज़रिए दिखाया गया.

गंगा नदी का बहाव दिखाने के लिए कलाकार मानव गुप्ता ने ‘दीयों’ से बनाई ये कलाकृति.

मानव कहते हैं, ”अंत में जब इन दीयों को तोड़ा जाता है, तो एक कलाकार को दुख होता है. मैं चाहता हूं कि वह दर्द हमारे पर्यावरण के लिए भी सब महसूस करें.

कला के ज़रिए पर्यावरण या ‘गंगा नदी’ के प्रदूषण के बारे में जागरूकता फैलाना एक नई सोच है.
मानव अंत में यही कहते हैं, “मानो तो मैं गंगा मां हूं, न मानो तो बहता पानी.”

The Excavated Museum – Manav Gupta

January 31, 2017 | Times of India 

Manav Gupta is truly a unique genius – the thinker and the visionary is hailed by critics as one of the most erudite and versatile contemporary artists today. After a hundred thousand footfalls at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi a year ago at his Ganga waterfront; and taking it across the Mississippi and the Hudson in USA last year as part of his Global Public Art Project on sustainbility connecting rivers of the world, he has created an entire ‘excavated museum’ at the DLF Mall of India at Sector 18, Noida till the 18th Feb 2017 with a suite of five mega environmental art installations that punctuate different spaces in the Mall.Why ‘excavations in hymns of clay’ ? His phiolsophy and artist statement bring out the uniqueness behind the whole first of its kind concept of a solo project of environmental art by any artist as a travelling museum and public art for sustainable development. He says ‘Water and all five elements of nature are our source of sustenance. Ancient civilizations from India to the world over respected and understood this sanctity. While they drew nourishment from the great rivers. Be it our sacred Ganga or the Mississippi. As we grow, its time, we excavate the ancient philosophy of sustainable living. And we are all clay. Dust to dust. My art seeks to submit to this paradigm. Hence ‘excavations in hymns of clay. ‘As a part of his outreach programme of evolving, site specific and dynamic multiple edition solo public art projects across the world he deploys the quintessentially Indian potter’s produce of clay objects such as the earthen lamps (“diyas”), local cigar (“chilam”), earthen cups (“kullar”) to transform their individual identity into metaphors and idioms of sustainability, context, perception and treatment as he conceptualizes and creates large scale avant-garde works; using the rural Indian pottery meant for everyday use, in mass numbers, he deconstructs their age old existence as units to make them lend themselves to another form, be it in a Duchamp like inverted concept or simply rendering them formless.

The Time Machine

With the first of its kind use of the potter’s produce of earthen cups to form the hourglass; the artist engages the audience with Time and its ethereal and transient passage. Clay, a naked, earth symbol of existence, resource and sustainability and the cup as the metaphor of Time’s limitedness draw us to explore how we use our resources. The fragility of clay juxtaposed with the limitedness of the “cup of Time” draw an engagement to our waste, perception, passage and interface with Time and Life itself in a rapidly mechanized, capitalistic,

consumerist human interaction with earth along our limited timelines of life.

The introduction of Light within, by the artist, celebrates the awakening of our consciousness and its potential of Hope.This sculpture – installation is philosophical and spiritual, teasing subtle nuances of human intelligence and its emotional quotient on one plane, while at the same time, simple, elegant graceful and celebrating the public engagement with art itself – the exciting possibilities of the potters produce as evolved artistic practice made brilliantly simple by the artist for mass consumption.

Manav Gupta: “Excavations in Hymns of Clay” demands Environmental Consciousness

Feb 09, 2016 | C file daily

Manav Gupta (b. 1967 in Kolkata, India) is an artist whose installations, performances and “mega-murals” often lead him into topics such as ecosystems, climate change and sustainable development. His biography states that global warming, man’s interference with nature and man’s disregard for environmental consciousness impact his work:Just as his artist’s statement highlights “As I scrape the bottom of the soul for some ingredients the only way I can explain to myself, about what it all is, is to believe that in some past life (if there is one), I belonged to the rainforests. The mantra there, for survival, is to submit to the natural forces, bow before it, respect its ways, learn and grow.
One of his larger pieces of particular interest to ceramics lovers, is the pottery/architecture installation Excavations in Hymns of Clay. We’re reproducing portions of his artist statement on this particular work here, accompanied by photographs. From the artist:Excavations in Hymns of Clay is a suite of environmental art installations by Manav Gupta where the artist deploys the quintessentially Indian potter’s produce of clay objects such as the earthen lamps (“diyas”), local cigar (“chilam”), earthen cups (“kullar”) and transforms their individual identity into metaphors and idioms of sustainability, context, perception and treatment as he conceptualizes and creates large scale avant-garde installations…
…Manav explores the essence of the vedic practices to subtly bring to light the repository of solutions that the ancient way of life could offer in today’s context of sustainable development and current issues around rivers like the Ganga…Using the earthen lamp as a metaphor, Manav explores issues of environmental consciousness. We recognise and respect earth only when we use its resources for our use without reverence. Having been a part of the religious rituals many years and having grown up and lived this practice in India for years this whole symbolic circle of life has deeply affected the artist to use earthen lamps diyas as a metaphor to explore and raise questions on environmental consciousness and about the very glaring issue of how perception and context interplay each other. How men and objects are made to traverse responses and the destiny of reactions based on usage, perception, context and situation.The earthen lamp is woven in the cultural-religious fabric of India from time immemorial. This humble small clay bowl called the diya is shaped by poor potters who keep them in large numbers by the road side in heaps for selling. Sometimes beside garbage dumps or beside sewage drains, they have a nondescript existence until the time they are bought home by people. Once home, only at the time of worship, they are used as a tool at the altar. Then something dramatic happens. The same humble small bowl of clay that had no meaning, no significance or existence in the human psyche suddenly turns into the medium of conveying the desires of the soul. Sacred as soon as it is placed at the altar. Priests say you do not need to purify these mud bowls by sprinkling it with the holy water of the Ganges because it is made of earth and is pure. Oil is poured in it. A wicker lit. And it assumes the status of the Holy Grail, carrying one‘s prayers of the soul to the Gods and our spirit awakens. Once the prayer ends, the earthen lamp is discarded again to be immersed in the Ganges. Taken for granted. Anointed when needed. Only revered when in use. And after its purpose is served, discarded and thrown and another one bought to serve the desires of the soul yet another day. Its life is strange as the way of the world and the circle of life. Like the unsung hymns of clay.

The artist has also taken his analogy from the Ganges. The sacred river of India has dedications that have always poured on it in many ways… Given today’s world of current complex issues of treatment and perception of women as well as earth (referred to as mother earth in many quarters of Indian spirituality), the artist draws a cross spectrum reference of eroding human values.The pollution of the rivers, the shrinking of water and its availability and such other climate change issues have been in the artist’s ethos of work since beginning.

Sacred.

if you believe,
I lie
wrapped
in a heap
of nothingness.

Unsung,
unlit,
unheard.
Till the end of time.

At an altar
sometimes,
flames peep out
of my earthen palms.
An iridescent arch
woven by moonbeams.

And your soul
sings your desires.

manav

A quest for light

2013 | Classic Feel

The work of the leading Indian artist, Manav Gupta was introduced to South African art lovers earlier this year at an exhibition titled Rainforests And The Circle Of Life. Classicfeel took the opportunity to speak to the artist. Light is a common preoccupation among visual artists. Painters and photographers alike are always seeking to find light that illuminates their subjects in just the right way and to capture it – somehow to trap within the physical confines of their medium. For Manav Gupta, however, the concern with light goes beyond the problems of the medium to become the subject itself. ‘for me it has always been a quest for light.’ he says. ‘I seek light -in gaps, in crevices and ventricles of the rainforests. For me light is hope. It seeks you out amidst the darkness. So the process of seeking out and finding the way forward with that single streak of light has been the journey of my life and work.’ The works on display during Gupta’s exhibition in Pretoria earlier this year were clear expressions of this ongoing preoccupation with light. The centerpiece of the exhibition, which also included several of the artist’s paintings, was an imaginative installation called Unsung Hymns of Clay Forming the heart of this site specific work is a large mass of small clay pots called diya- used as lamps in various Indian religious occasions –innovatively reimagined as the contours of a drying riverbed. These simple earthen bowls, when filled with oil, augmented by a cotton wick and lit. become spiritual instruments. With the addition of a tiny flame, these common, disposable pieces of clay become links to the divine. A small bit of light thus elevates the profane towards the sacred Unsung Hymns of Clay is the third in a trilogy of exhibitions called Rainforests and the Circle of Life. which, aside from the ongoing exploration of the qualities-both empirical and spiritual – of light. also explores environmental consciousness as the central theme in Gupta’s work. The fresh and minimalistic treatment of the lamps laid out on the floor remind the viewer of a dried up riverbed. This links to discussions around water and its increasing scarcity in some places around the world, which speaks to wider issues of natural resources and the environment. Which are also matters of deep concern to Gupta and have occupied his thoughts since before his career began. Born and raised in Kolkata, India, the birthplace of the Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Gupta’s own versatile repertoire comes from writer and scholar parents who made a point of exposing him to art and culture during his formative years. “I was exposed to prose and poetry from a young age.’ he says, ‘as well as music, theatre and dance. I also grew up in the lap of nature because my father was the director of the national library, which is situated on this patch of green, complete with lush, budding trees. Which can almost be described as an island in the middle of the city.’ Combining with the strong influences of culture and nature were ideas about spirituality and transcendence.’ I had a guru, when I was a child .who had spent a lot of time in the forests and so on and he taught me the soul of art and the essence of nature. All ofthese things made a very strong impression on how I grew up and how my work evolved.’ While he learned about ‘the soul of art’ from his guru, Gupta was taught ‘the grammar of art’ at Kolkata’s renowned Academy of Fine Arts. After completing his education ,he did not go straight into a career in the arts_ ‘I worked for a while-I had to support my mother_ I was doing very well, I had a good job, I was secure. But one day I decided to take the plunge. Everyone said I was crazy- art will never pay the bills! But I knew that if I didn’t do it then, I would never do it. ‘Gupta’s first solo exhibition was extremely successful and brought him an invitation to show in the Indian capital, where his works drew the attention of the wife of the US Ambassador to India, who bought some of his works and hosted his exhibition at Roosevelt House_ The environmental themes in his work introduced him to members of the Indian government, which led to his work being displayed in the Ministry of Culture. commissions by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, a collaboration with former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam (Gupta illustrated a book of poetry by the former head of state and a mural commissioned to mark the long friendship between India and Bhutan. Perhaps Gupta’s most famous work -thus far -is the 11000 square-foot. six-floor high mega-mural .The Tree of life, which adorns the New Delhi headquarters of the multinational telecommunications company, Bharti Airtel. The creation of this work was unique in itself, with Gupta employing four creative processes. for the first time, in its making -namely conceptual. performance. collaborative and site specific. He invited the company’s employees to share the experience of painting with him in the first phase using what was created to weave a composition on a six-floor high staircase, while the organization’s employees watched. ‘How I saw it was you have 4000 employees who are going to be watching me work every day. So I thought, why don’t we make this a collaborative process? I opened up to all these non-artists. They would be there doing their job and then on their coffee break they could come and add a brushstroke here and there. It was exciting as well as challenging, especially as I was conceptualizing spontaneously without any blueprints. I juggled between the micro environment of helping the office workers paint and the larger role of creating a cutting edgeartwork.’ This massive undertaking resulted in the giant work of art that has seen the Airtel building being granted museum status. Gupta’s first trip to South Africa took place at the invitation of the Indian High Commission in Pretoria. Unsung Hymns of Clay, together with a number of earlier works, went on display at the National Museum of Cultural History. The response to the exhibition-from the public. collectors and the media alike-was very favourable. Manav Gupta is an artist quickly growing in international renown and his works are recognised by collectors as excellent investments both for artistic and economic reasons. But, contrary to the misconceptions propagated by popular culture, the achievement of fame and recognition does not signify a destination. For Gupta. the effort to expand consciousness and create awareness. And most importantly, the quest for light. continues.

A wealth of meaning

July 19, 2018 | The Statesman | Aruna Bhowmik

A spectacular installation work at IGNCA uses clay pottery to depict all the natural elements. A review by Aruna Bhowmick Sharp, sensitive and organized as an individual and as an artist, ‘Manav Gupta has over the year created unusual and striking work of art that are as soul stirring as meaningful. Over the past few years, he has honed his ideas evolving as an environment-oriented artist with a difference. Using humble clay pottery, the earthen lamp or Diya and chillum or the local smoker’s pipe. Manav has created the most spectacular installation work to denote the elements with special reference to the Ganga. Using just these basic utility earthen pieces, he creates the cascading water of the mighty river reminder of its even mightier abuse and misuse.

Currently showing on the vast lawns of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for arts (IGNCA) the show is located over adjacent sites. An -Ode to Ganga – Waterfront has special reference as An Ode to Matighar, intelligently making an ironic statement on the Ganga by embracing the closed and abandoned Matighar itself, earlier declared by authorities as “unsafe.” At a short internally commutable distance, facing the new building of IGNCA. On Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, are five other such installations spread over the lawns as Arth ~ Art for Earth (The Excavated Museum of Clay). Flood lights are an inherent component of the art works.

“arth” in Devanagari or Hindi implies “meaning’ as well as “wealth”, in this con- text meaning the five elements in relation to our existence on this planet. Today’s perception and treatment both of the earth and of women, both referred to as “mother” in many quarters of Indian spirituality, are contradictory and hypocritical, venerated on one occasion and sullied on all others. This polluting, the shrinking of water and its sources, the resultant climate change, have concerned this artist for several years.

As one pierces the darkness of the gardens becomes behind the Featuring a terracotta assembly as bed, and mannequins man and woman, the contention here is that life begins and ends from the bed. We are incepted here, and we leave the world from here.

In the backdrop we see the array of chillum strung on fine yarn, lit up to sparkle like rain to nurture the Arjuna and Neem trees. Nestling among the tree trunks are the hives of The Beehive Garden. Bees are an obvious or not so obvious linking the evolution chain and our sustainability. This global beehive garden project is an environmental statement about biodiversity and its crucial linkages to sustainable development. It is for us then, to try and add a drop in the ocean in the preservation of bees and biodiversity.

Noah’s Ark symbolises the saving of the world. In the “cycle of creation, un-creation and re-creation, the ark plays a pivotal role”. And in that effort is the neuter-gendered individual seen “rowing” the boat of all existing life on earth against the doom of self-destruction. The Time Machine, placed atop the stairs to the main entrance, is a set of three hour glasses composed of diyas, here implying cups or receptacles, together composing the large cups of the hourglass, to receive and disperse the sand within it. The sand here implies Time, Life and, in course of it, what we return to the earth after our abundant intake. “In its cur- rent avatar, the Time Machine is a tryptic espousing the sound of “OM” as “AUM” the three notes of the sound that crated the universe and reverberate in it.”

The installations are spectacular. Motivated by clear-headed noble ideas and created with great finesse and good taste they become magnificent. The thing to remember is that terracotta is not soluble or destroyable even with its humble origins. A lot of world civilisational history has been unearthed and dated from buried terracotta findings. So only time can tell how eco-friendly or environ- mentally-sustainable it really is.

Showing through 22 October, the show has to be approached from the Janpath Gate. Best time to visit: after sundown. Open till 9 p.m.

CUPS OF LIFE. THE PASSAGE OF TIME.

Time Machine