India’s Power Couple: Artists Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta
Over the past two decades, Subodh Gupta has produced a distinct body of work concerned with the effects of urbanization and globalization in the rural communities of North India. With "home" as the central focal point, he contemporizes issues that have affected India since colonial times, while also conceptually linking pop art with Indian visual culture.
Vehicle for Seven Seas, "[...] alludes to the changes related to the massive migration of rural residents, who leave their homes in search of a better future in large Indian cities or abroad - a destination viewed as the ultimate form of success. In this context, the airport itself is perceived as a status symbol that allows for comfortable traveling from one place to another. The shiny, modern baggage cart is thus transformed into a monument of globalization, and into a symbol of economic prosperity and of India's aspirations in its current incarnation as a consumer society." (Critical Mass: Contemporary Art from India, exhibition catalogue, Tel Aviv, 2012, p. 75)
Consisting of a series of aluminum and bronze cast replicas of airport trolleys and the kind of luggage Indian migrant workers bring back to India, symbolizing the materialistic fruit of their labor, this work also represents the widespread history of displacement and migration particularly relevant to Gupta's home state of Bihar. From an early age, he witnessed the quiet tragedy of the migrant worker's journey to and from their homeland in search of prosperity. "It is not the train, it is not the ship that is our enemy, but rather the money that compels our husbands to migrate to other lands." (Lament from the Bihari folk musical Bidesia, The Migrant, as cited in Subodh Gupta: Gandhi's Three Monkeys, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2008, p. 101)
As India adjusts to a new era dominated by a global economy, new technologies and the facility of mass transit, the nature of home and family life continues to change with it. Invoking a profound sense of a culture in a state of perpetual transition, Gupta's work begs the question: who benefits from these changes?
Internationally recognized, Subodh Gupta has participated in exhibitions with many prestigious institutions including, Arken Museum of Modern Art (2012), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012), Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (2011), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2010) and Tate Britain (2009). In 2013, he is participating in shows with the Kunstmuseum Thun, Thun (February - April), Center of Contemporary Art, Malaga (June - September) and Centre Pompidou, Paris (September - October).
Art Asia Pacific, New York, Volume 1, Almanac 2005/2006, p. 4 (illustrated)
Art Asia Pacific, New York, No. 48, Spring 2006, p. 6 (illustrated) P. Nagy, V. Bharadvaja & Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi, 2006, p. 28, (illustrated)
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Sometimes dubbed India’s Damien Hirst, Subodh Gupta is one of India’s leading contemporary artists, who creates mainly large-scale sculptures and installations (from stainless steel Indian kitchenware and other found objects) that address the country’s changing social landscape. Arranging traditional utensils, pots, and pans according to a Minimalist aesthetic, Gupta approaches readymade items with Duchampian irony, while also offering social commentary. His monumental sculpture U.F.O. (2007) is comprised of brass water utensils fused together in the form of a shiny U.F.O.-like object, suggesting cultural dislocation and otherness, while pointing to vast disparities in wealth across the subcontinent. Gupta’s installation piece Date by Date (2008) presents a spare and run-down office with worn wooden tables, old chairs, typewriters, and frayed files, an environment that has weathered the impact of time, poverty, and rapid change.
Indian, b. 1964, Khagaul, India, based in New Delhi, India