signed in Hindi and dated '07' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
66 x 90 in. (167.5 x 228.5 cm.)
Painted in 2007
Bodhi Art, New Delhi
Private Collection

Lot Essay

Painted in the slick super-realist style of much contemporary industrially produced painting, this work by Subodh Gupta echoes the sumptuous sense of luxury and craft often evoked by Jeff Koons as well as a dispassionate objectivity appropriate to its subject matter. Following from a tradition of Pop sensibility, Subodh Gupta's post-modernist ideas channel far-ranging influences from Marcel Duchamp and Josef Beuys to Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol. However, his artistic vocabulary is firmly rooted in the vernacular of everyday India. Describing his work, the artist says, “I am the idol thief. I steal from the drama of Hindu life. And from the kitchen – these pots, they are like stolen gods, smuggled out of the country. Hindu kitchens are as important as prayer rooms. These pots are like something sacred, part of important rituals, and I buy them in a market. They think I have a shop, and I let them think it. I get them wholesale.” (C. Mooney, “Subodh Gupta: Idol Thief”, ArtReview, 17 December 2007, p. 57)

Familiar in both rural and urban Indian society, Gupta’s stainless steel containers are a ubiquitous element in Indian bridal trousseaus, and a staple in most Indian kitchens. Predominantly, however, these quotidian vessels are used by middle-class Indians as dishes and cooking implements in place of the porcelain or glassware brought out for guests on special occasions. The vessels are also aspirational objects of desire for those occupying lower social strata.

“Superficially, Subodh’s art has taken the experience of India away from the dirty, crowded and noisy to the clean, sparse and sedate. While he has done so metaphorically, his choice of icons and materials and his strategy of approach have been anything but simplistic...paintings of the lustrous surfaces of steel pots that bleed from their own making: marvelous symbols that both catch and repel meanings, slipping in and out of focus. A metaphor literally takes form, casting one subject as a substitute for another. Sculpture and painting which employ recognizable imagery make concrete the pervasiveness of metaphors in our thoughts, not only as tropes of language.” (P. Nagy, Start.Stop, exhibition catalogue, Mumbai, March 2007)

The artist's works have been included in several major exhibitions around the world, including the solo shows ‘When Soak Becomes Spill’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 2015; ‘Everyday Divine’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in 2016; and ‘From Far Away Uncle Moon Calls’ at Mead Gallery, Coventry, in 2017. Gupta's first retrospective in France will open in April 2018 at La Monnaie de Paris.

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