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Sunil Gawde

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1960, Mumbai
Lives and works in Mumbai

Known to be a constant innovator, Sunil Gawde moved from his earlier two dimensional works to experiment with large-scale sculptures and dynamic installations. His philosophy revolves around ideas of duality and perception; and the attempt at bridging the gap between the reality and perception. The subjects of his installations are banal objects such as wipers, bulbs etc.



Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai

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His philosophy revolves around ideas of duality and perception

Gawde’s works are contemplative in nature. His works, often metaphysical and metaphorical, are an amalgamation of unusual perspective married to a high degree of aesthetic sensibility. He believes that what we perceive completely differs from what “is”; and that his work is an endeavour to bridge the gap between the two.

The beauty of his works lies in the fact that they come from a place to which most viewers can relate. He states that each picture has to have its own sincerity.

Sunil Gawde, Untitled, 2003, oil on canvas, 42 x 66”

He expresses himself with fine arts as much as craft

He's a versatile artist who expresses himself in the form of paintings, sculptures and mobile installations. When painting on canvas, he uses the trowels and scrapers so as to give his pigments a layered depth.  He then strips the overlayers of paint partially, to reveal the earlier histories creating a dynamically textured surface.

Known to be a constant innovator, Sunil Gawde has gradually moved from his earlier minimalist, two dimensional works to more ambitious, large-scale sculptures and dynamic installations. The subjects of his installations are usually common objects, such as bulbs, windshield wipers or magnifying glasses. With their physical presence, texture and scale, the artist establishes the object’s symbolic potential thereby exploring the hidden secrets of his daily subjects.

Sunil Gawde, Life, 2007, cast bronze, 33.5 x 31 x 24”

His departure from trademark abstract paintings

In 2005, Sunil Gawde showcased the Blind Bulb Series which marked a departure from his trademark abstract paintings. The bulb seems to represent the human body, with an interior and an exterior- both filled with possibilities of illumination. The light bulb usually is seen as a symbol of enlightenment or knowledge, but by making it dense black, the artist has inverted its interpretation.

The opaque bulbs are made from fibreglass and coated in car paint. These giant bulbs block us from experiencing their light (if any?) and force us to look at them outside of the traditional way we have been primed to view bulbs. Thus, these bulbs force us to evaluate them for the qualities outside of their functionality - to admire them for the beauty of their form.

Sunil Gawde, Blind Bulb, 2006

A surreal twist to an ordinary visual

“Almost Untouchable III” is one of Sunil Gawde’s most famous installations that set an example of today’s Indian society. At first sight, the viewer can see a large garland of bright red flowers. Such garlands are traditionally used in Indian religious ceremonies or to greet an important guest. But once the viewer gets to see this piece closely, one can find the garland made out of red razor blades instead of flowers. Such pile of blades, arranged side by side, are a reminder of the violence which can burst out at any unexpected moment, like the bomb hidden in Rajiv Gandhi’s flower garland.

Sunil Gawde, Almost Untouchable III, 2007, garlands of powder coated razor blades and wooden chair, chair - 35.5 x 19.5 x 24.5 garlands - 53 x 11(each)