Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra - Artist-Communicators

Former art directors from the advertising world, versatile artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra express themselves in painting, sculptures and installations. Among their creations is the "Apocalyptron", a 15ft-high Godzilla-like monster created out of 2,000 pink plastic bottles, symbolic of rampant consumerism, aptly placed in a shopping mall in Delhi. Their work has eight-figure price tags, is frequently auctioned at Sothebys and has been snapped up by art czar Frank Cohen as well as pop star Elton John, strangely making them the very icons of what they parody. Despite criticism for churning out computer-generated art work, they remain unfazed. "Had we been working as individuals, the curve would have been much slower," says Thukral. Among their early projects was the Punjabi-pejorative titled BoseDK designs and the mind-numbingly everyday products of the fictitious BoseDK mega mall. They spend six months a year jetting to exhibitions from Tokyo to Turin but their time in India is spent closeted in their studio in Gurgaon. "No time for parties," says Tagra. Forthcoming projects include four large museum shows in Paris, Beijing, Washington and Lyon, a move into a purpose-built studio and a feature film.
  The Journey: Two small-town boys, Thukral from Jalandhar and Tagra from Ludhiana, went to the big city to learn fine art at the Delhi College of Art. They worked together at Ogilvy & Mather, before debuting with a solo show at Nature Morte in 2005. Since then, the duo has held over a dozen shows in New York, London, Sydney and Berlin where they often field post-Slumdog Millionairequeries like, "do you have plug points in India?"
The Inspiration: They revel in seemingly everyday ordinariness and kitsch which finds expression in all their projects-from paintings lampooning the rootlessness of Punjabi baroque architecture to rubber slippers and underwear with a "put it on" condom message.
The Mentor: The mundane world with dashes of Stephan Sagmeister's shock, Damien Hirst's formaldehyde art, the scale of Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta's exuberance. "We can spend hours marvelling at a plastic toy," says Thukral.

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