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Friday Review » Art

Updated: November 21, 2013 19:30 IST

Statement in steel

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Loves working with everyday objects Subodh Gupta Photo: Dia Bhupal
Loves working with everyday objects Subodh Gupta Photo: Dia Bhupal

When an object becomes a statement through an artist, the object becomes art, says Subodh Gupta

In a way his ongoing show in Gallery Ske is a classic and in some ways it is unusual. It is classic because the show features his trademark work with utensils, the highlight being a large installation made of utensils and lights which is suspended from the ceiling like a bizarre chandelier. And it is unusual because the show also features paintings, miniatures of cutlery after a finished meal, a new body of work by contemporary artist Subodh Gupta.

“This is my first show in Bangalore and it’s very important because I am showing a different body of work. I have never exhibited this kind of work in India before. This is the first time I am showing miniature paintings and small sculptures which people have not seen before.”

Some of the small sculptures include miniature utensil stands or cutlery in glass boxes, affixed to the wall. The contents of the cutlery vary, from cement to little metal skulls. “I am very close to the kitchen, I love cooking, I love food. When I see utensils I wonder at the fact that every single Indian home has them. I have been working on the theme of food for many years and on utensils over the last 20 years. It’s a journey with a diary, where I sometimes like making little notes, like when I finish my food I take photographs,” he explains.

And that’s just what it is, though his works are looked at as commentaries on the economic growth of the country. “Honestly, I just do my own stuff. I am not looking at events and reacting. I am looking at myself and my journey and I react within my world rather than the real world. But of course, I am real so my intersection with the real world is there. I try to bring everything inwards and I try to describe my works and in that way I explore.”

Subodh says he’s constantly thinking about ideas, but it’s only when a good idea strikes that the creative process starts. “It’s not as though one is creative all the time. When a good idea comes it stays with you and that, for an artist becomes a language and it’s what differentiates one artist from another.”

And Subodh does not hesitate using any medium to express his language, whether it’s video, paintings, installation or sculpture. “In that way, I am a multi-media artist. Art today, is no longer about medium, it’s about what you are making. For instance, if I take one glass of water from a row of glasses and put it separately, I am making a statement. When an object becomes a statement through an artist, the object becomes art and I love working with everyday objects.”

The artist whom Subodh says, opened the door to using objects, is Marcel Duchamp who is known for his installation of an upturned urinal. And 100 years have passed since then, giving artist lots of time to experiment with everyday objects and according to Subodh, what makes this relevant is that we live in a materialistic world. Yet he does not believe that art is expensive, even in India.

“I don’t blame people for not buying art because you have to develop the taste. We have great museums around the world, but not even a single contemporary art museum in India. Art schools have remained the same over the years. There are not many new art schools so how can people understand art?” he says.

“In the Western world there is a lot of philanthropy in art. We have so many billionaires in India, but hardly any philanthropy in art. Even if it’s there it happens at a very small level. ”

Besides, Subodh feels, not all art is expensive. “Only when something is valuable does it become expensive. When Van Gogh initially sold his art, nobody bought it. But today it sells for millions. You have to have the eye for art. I would say only five percent of art is expensive, just like how the same roti and dal is expensive in a five star hotel.”

Recent Works by Subodh Gupta will be on view until December 7 at Gallery Ske, 2, Berlie Street, Langford Town. For details, contact 41120873.

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