Shubha Taparia at Unit 7
- Friday dispatch
- Read Time: 3 minutes
Unit 7, Atlas Business Oxgate Lane, London, NW2 7HJ
7 October 2023 – 27 January 2024
Shubha Taparia is a conceptual artist, widely known for her sophisticated photographs, films, performances, and large-scale installations. Interested in the notion of the transient, Taparia often creates her artwork from mass-produced industrial materials which she encounters in the urban landscape: ‘With even the slightest of interventions or even a closer look, the most impermeable and severe looking materials reveal their organic and soft aspect. I highlight that with gold’ is how she describes her artistic approach to the overlooked relics of everyday life.
Presented in Unit 7’s vast exhibition space in North-West London, housed in a former Rolls-Royce factory warehouse, the show features an overview of photographs and sculptural work that Taparia has created over the past four years.
A series of mid to large-scale photographs made between 2019 and 2020 depict striking images of derelict buildings under renovation, such as the facade of London’s Smithfield Market or abandoned historic architecture in Kensington’s Palace Street.
Meticulously retouched with gold-leaf, the artist highlights the everchanging nature of our urban landscape as well as the intrinsic beauty of these stripped-down building facades, covered in scaffolding and layers of tarp.
The idea of the transient translated into poetic, abstract and figurative imagery is a recurring element in Taparia’s practice. For her sculptural painting series titled Transitional Weaves, 2022, she applies synthetic gold-leaf sheets by hand onto the surface of dark tarpaulin rectangles. The golden shining panels are moulded with coats of resin creating a wavy surface that simulates their ‘used’ look on a building site, emphasising this otherwise overlooked material.
Wall mounted but also suspended from the ceiling, the abstract floating panels form a powerful dialogue with Taparia’s latest figurative works that are placed on Unit 7’s concrete floor. This time the artist covered domestic objects with tarpaulin, goldleaf and fibreglass to create moulds of life-size interiors, such as a table or a chair. The resulting hollow sculptures emanate an uncanny presence. To me, they imply the transient nature of human beings while simultaneously pointing to the physical quality of our familiar yet overlooked everyday objects.
Overall, Taparia’s elegant and playful work stands out for its ability to capture our constantly changing urban and domestic environments. Whilst her photographs and ready-made sculptures refer to Western Art Movements such as Minimalism and Geometric Abstraction, the artist, who moved to the UK in 2001, skilfully draws from the craftsmanship of Indian painting traditions that use gold for ornamentation. Seeing her gold leaf-covered photography and sculptures within Unit 7’s industrial space is visually and conceptually intriguing. The variety of building materials used to create complex textures, the interplay of light and shadow on the photographs, and the fine details in the finish of her gold shining sculptures, set the emotional tone for the exhibition - one of freedom and experimentation. Listed by Forbes as one of the must-see exhibitions in London this autumn, a visit to Unit 7 is highly recommended! For those of you travelling to Berlin in the New Year – Taparia’s Transitional Weave 1, 2022, will be on permanent display in the collection of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) at the Humboldt Forum from January 2024 onwards.
The Roden Senior Curator, Museum Acquisitions
Atlas Business Oxgate Lane, London, NW2 7HJ
Opening Times: Weekdays and Weekend, by appointment only.
Closed: 18 December 2023 - 3 January 2024
Exhibition open until 27 January 2024