On view May 5, 2019 — January 5, 2020, Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton NJ presented the work of multinational conceptual artist, Tallur L.N., in his first survey exhibition in the United States. Filling two multi-level galleries, Interference Fringe | Tallur L.N. brought together a survey of over 25 sculptures created during the past 13 years in a range of media including found objects, appropriated industrial machines, carved stone and wood, cast bronze, and works embedded in concrete and studded with coins.
With pointed humor and incisive visual commentary, Tallur confronts our belief systems, questioning the value we assign to money, icons, and artifacts. Building on the rich sculptural traditions of India, he references ancient iconography, religious and patriotic symbology, and mythology. There were several interactive works in the exhibition. In Enlightenment Machine (beta version 3.0) (2019), the artist invited viewers to pump the pedal of a grinding wheel while holding a Statue of Liberty souvenir to its gritted surface. However innocent or oblivious, our participation makes us collectively complicit in the erosion of an American symbol which has come to represent freedom, opportunity, and emancipation.
His conceptual metaphors can be provocative. In Chromatophobia (Buddha) (2012), a large granite installation of the Budai with a giant log atop its head prompted visitors to make a wish and hammer a coin into the crevices of the wood that crushes it. The artist insists that if money is “the root of all evil,” this awkwardly therapeutic ritual will cure of us of our “abnormal and persistent fear” of it.
His massive installation, Scaffold (2019), was stacked with the sculptures for which Tallur is most recognized. Several of these works incorporated or referenced iconography which is almost inseparable from the idea of India (or stereotypes of India) in the popular imagination. The three-story industrial scaffolding interfered with our ability to look at a single sculpture in the round, upending typical standards of museum display and forcing interrupted vantage points.
The exhibition included the premiere of the exhibition’s partial namesake, Fringe (2019), a towering 18’-tall site-specific installation coated in bone meal, bone char, and crushed bone which was inspired by historic Indian temple fragments in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Also, on view was the debut of a video work, Interference (2019), inaugurating Tallur’s use of film as an artistic medium. The mesmerizing slow-motion video captured clouds of dust being beaten out of a historic rug from the collection of the Junagadh Museum in Gujarat, India, both obscuring and revealing its intricate pattern through this process. The off-register audio created a resounding echo suggestive of mortars discharging in the distance while the dust clouds evoke a city under aerial bombardment.
The exhibition title alluded to the notion that we simultaneously carry forward and censor memories of the past, and that this subjective retelling becomes history. In physics, “interference” is a phenomenon in which two waves come together. If their frequency and wavelength are in sync, they can amplify, diminish, or completely negate each other. The idea of conflicting signals speaks to the competing stories, celebration of select relics, and contradictory meanings we bestow. At a moment in our collective history when society is often at odds with itself, the lines between fact and fiction can feel arbitrary. Tallur’s work amplifies and distorts what we hold true or sacred and illuminates paradoxes and contradictions.
A recipient of The Skoda Prize for Indian Contemporary Art, Tallur has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions in Germany, South Korea, India, China, and the United States. He is represented by Nature Morte (New Delhi), Gallery Chemould (Mumbai), Arario Gallery (Seoul), and Jack Shainman (New York City), and his work is in public and private collections. He received a BFA in Painting from Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (1996), an MFA in Museology from Maharaja Sayyajirao University (1998), and an MA in Contemporary Fine Art Practice from Leeds Metropolitan University (2002). Tallur was born in Karnataka, India in 1971. He splits his time between his coastal family home in Karnataka, India and the industrial urban city of Daegu, South Korea.
Many of the works in Interference Fringe | TALLUR L.N. were borrowed from international collections, including the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (New Delhi), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 21c Museum Hotel, and leading private collections in India, Korea, and the United States. While the artist is well established in Asia, this will be his most significant museum exhibition to date in the United States. A 120-page full color exhibition catalogue was published by Lucia | Marquand and distributed by D.A.P., and an 8-minute video, including interview with the artist and process footage accompanied the exhibition.
Interference Fringe | TALLUR L.N., was organized by GFS as part of a series of projects that affirm the institution’s commitment to reflecting the diversity of its’ region and the dynamic world around it, and underscored GFS’s long history of supporting and challenging artists to make ambitious new work. It was curated by GFS Executive Director, Gary Garrido Schneider, and Associate Curator for this project, Ami Mehta. Interference Fringe | TALLUR L.N. and its accompanying catalogue were supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, Bank of America, New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel & Tourism, Chemould Prescott Road, Marriott Princeton, Nature Morte, Umesh and Sunanda Gaur, and the following Exhibition Supporters: Gordon and Lulie Gund, Barbara Lawrence and Allen Laskin, and Eric B. Ryan.