Mumbai-based Valay Shende is one of the most recognizable artists of his generation. His works are often life-size, crafted using hundreds of shiny metal discs that are welded together, to create iconic sculptures. They poignantly reflect upon the concerns of the common man and his fragmented lived experience, against the backdrop of a hyper-capitalist society.
To express his preoccupations, Shende often employs quotidian symbols ubiquitous around him, such as cattle, dabbawallas, scooters, hanging clothes and irons. Weaving narratives around their significance and context, he turns them into powerful metaphors that make statements about globalization, migration, and economic imbalances. It is this ability to re-conceptualise even the most mundane of symbols that makes him such a potent artistic commentator on contemporary India.
Born in Nagpur in 1980, Shende completed his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Mumbai's Sir J.J. School of Art in 2004. His works are part of numerous private collections in India and overseas and have been included in such prestigious exhibitions as ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India,’ Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; 'Indian Highway' at MAXXI Rome and MAC, Lyon; 'Concurrent India' at Helsinki Art Museum, Finland and 'Finding India: Art for the New Century' at Museum for Contemporary Art, Taipei. Shende has, in the past, been invited to participate in the Glenfiddich Artist-in-Residence program, Glasgow as well as Open Air Residency Program, Paris; and his work was included in ‘Kuandu Biennale 2014 - Recognition System.’ His solo ‘Migrating Histories of Molecular Identities’ was held at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in 2015. Shende’s socially conscious practice has received much acclaim and his 13-foot tall Dabbawala sculpture is a permanent installation at Mumbai’s iconic Haji Ali.