Kausik Mukhopadhyay (b. 1960)
Contemporary artist known for his dynamic sculptural installations, Kausik Mukhopadhyay uses mechanical and electrical found objects in his work. While working in the tradition of the early European Dadaists, specifically Marcel Duchamp’s readymade artworks, Mukhopadhyay’s sculptural work is more interactive and technical.
Growing up in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the 1960s and ’70s, Mukhopadhyay was exposed early to politics, science and the arts. As a child, he enjoyed working with mechanical clocks and Meccano building sets as well as crafting model planes, boats and miniature motors, which influenced his later interest in kinetic sculptural installation. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art in 1986 from Rabindra Bharati University, followed by an MFA from Visva Bharati University in 1989, where he was exposed to Dadaism and Fluxus groups and frequently participated in theatre and drama groups. In 1996, Mukhopadhyay began teaching at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai, where he works to this day.
Mukhopadhyay reconfigures found mechanical objects such as motors, gears, levers and pulleys by placing them in non-functional locations, where the original mechanism is rendered useless. He also uses parts from everyday domestic items such as kettles, toasters, printers, ovens, headphones, scanners, computer scanners, vacuums and rotary telephones. Mukhopadhyay’s emphasis on dynamic machines is possibly inspired by the work of Swiss artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who share a similar affinity to memorabilia and mechanisms in constant motion. This preoccupation with kinetic sculpture also places him within the European Dadaist lineage of artists such as Jean Tinguely and Francis Picabia.
The idea of “home” is a recurring theme in Mukhopadhyay’s sculptures, most evident in the works in his exhibition Squeeze Lime in Your Eye (2017), where the artist collected and reconfigured used materials to explore the theme of home as well as highlight his connection to the Bengali identity, which was altered by the Partition and the consequent displacement of large populations.
Mukhopadhyay received the the Kanoria Centre for Art Fellowship (1990–91); the Inlaks Foundation Fellowship for Artists Working in India (1994–95); and the Charles Wallace grant residency for Gasworks, London (2002), for which he created a plate of armour made of found objects in London’s secondhand markets and waste plants, transforming semi-recognisable items and their status as representatives of British culture — the armour does not cover or protect but gains new meaning as a representation of consumer culture. His work has also been exhibited at Tate Modern, London (2001); Sahmat Collective, New Delhi (2001); the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (2004); Pundole’s, Mumbai (2009); Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (2009); and Chatterjee & Lal (2017).
As of writing, the artist lives and works in Mumbai.
Chatterjee & Lal. “Artists > Kausik Mukhopadhyay.” Accessed May 31, 2021. https://chatterjeeandlal.com/artists/kausik-mukhopadhyay/.
Gasworks. “Residencies: Kausik Mukhopadhyay,” 2002. https://www.gasworks.org.uk/residencies/kausik-mukhopadhyay/.
Hoskote, Ranjit. “The Animism of the Machine: Kausik Mukhopadhyay's Autobiography in Moving Parts”. Chaterjee & Lal, 2017. https://chatterjeeandlal.com/shows/squeeze-lime-in-your-eye/.
Ramanathan, Ramu. “Kausik Mukhopadhyay: The Bohemian Bhadralok.” Mumbai Mirror, January 31, 2018. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/kausik-mukhopadhyay-the-bohemian-bhadralok/articleshow/62703823.cms.
Shahani, Roshan. “Interacting with Scrap and Day-to-Day Reality.” The Times of India, December 14, 1995.
TARQ. “Artist: Kausik Mukhopadhyay.” Accessed May 31, 2021. https://www.tarq.in/artist/kausik-mukhopadhyay/.