Ritesh Meshram is a Bombay based artist whose diverse practice harnesses inspiration from his early theater background and his rural upbringing in Bhilai, a steel city in Chattisgarh, which is located in the center of India. He first moved to Bombay in 2003 to pursue an art career, and when he was awarded a Gasworks residency in London in 2012, he was the first person in his family to travel by plane. His itinerant personal history is an important part of his art making, and he finds and draws out wonder from objects that most people would overlook.
While originally trained as a painter, today Meshram is primarily known for his sculpture and performances. He has an inventive use of varied materials, subverting their shapes and forms beyond their logical or normative function, as well as referencing and echoing the architectural environment around him. There is a humorous quality to his works, as well as a sense of energy that comes from the way he re-contextualizes found objects and scraps from the simplest parts of daily existence (such as pieces of coal, electrical sockets, and toys). In one of his early exhibitions at Chemould Prescott Road in 2010, a groups show called ‘Bringing in the New’, Meshram created static and mechanical assemblages from books that he feverishly collected. In one ironic untitled work from the series, Meshram constructed a sculpture using Michael D. Eisner’s book ‘Work in Progress: Risking Failure, Surviving Success,’ and a shoe last that appeared to have been worn down from exertion in the working process, setting a stage to make viewers contemplate the meaning of labor.
Meshram’s later works seem to be a negotiation of new spaces, and the sculptural works respond to architecture and the environment. In a group exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road in 2011, Meshram exhibited works that he created when he temporarily abandoned his studio (which had become un-workable due to construction activities around it) and began working in his kitchen at home. The body language necessary to navigate a small kitchen corner was different from that used in his studio, and it created an alteration in his work. Inspired by the details in the clutter around him, he began casting small packages and containers from his kitchen using white cement, and became interested in the way the material reacted with the environment to create visible pores and air bubbles, which contribute to the beauty of the work. In his 2012 solo exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road, Meshram continued to explore domestic scales in his work with new assemblages which exalted objects from the home on wooden and golden pedestals, stripping them of their function to call attention to their importance.
© Chemould Prescott Road