When he was young, Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty went to see an exhibition featuring four Rolls-Royce cars belonging to the late Maharaja Bhavnagar, Governor of Madras from 1948 to 1952. ‘It’s a memory that has stayed with me,’ recalls the 55-year-old. ‘It sparked an interest in looking back to different times in India's history.’ Lucky then, that Shetty is the first Indian artist to be commissioned for the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, which to date has worked with the likes of Angela Bulloch, Isaac Julien and Ugo Rondinone.
Shetty’s work, which will be unveiled in Mumbai on 5 November before moving to New Delhi, consists of a two-channel film anchored by two wooden sculptures, inspired by a folk tale from South India. It’s sure to be a hit in country where, says the artist, ‘owning a Rolls is the pinnacle of luxury’.
This month, Shetty took a research trip to Goodwood in Sussex, to Rolls-Royce's headquarters. ‘The people who work there are masters of their craft, working both with their hands and with the latest technologies,' he says. 'I was inspired by how many parts come together on the assembly line in the creation of one car.’ Shetty draws parallels with his own work; he has spent three decades creating sculpture, film and mixed media works out of a huge range of materials, both new and found.
Shetty is also curator of this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which takes place in Kerala this December. Now in its third year, 25 artists, as well as poets, dancers and musicians are involved so far.