Subodh Gupta was born in 1964 in Khagaul, Bihar, and is now based in New Delhi. The artist's change of residence from his native village to a major urban center is an allegory of today's India. Gupta is interested in what inevitably disappears in the process of such change. The extensive use of stainless steel utensils in his artwork codifies the complex socio-economic, as well as, cultural situation of present day India. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.
Subodh Gupta’s work exemplifies the iconography of a banal, precarious, edgy and bustling everyday life humungous in magnitude, blown out of proportions, peeled out of their ordinary skins by their sheer mass and volume.
In stainless steel, Gupta settled upon a material that evoked a common set of associations across the country. His paintings of shops displaying shiny pots and pans played on these associations and his use of materials that are connected with collective memory furthered this notion successfully. The alloy has become cheaper and gone down market since it inception but continues to attract the interest of high-end designers, as it has intermittently done since the heyday of art deco. A range of class associations therefore comes into play when responding to his work and that is the original intention.
Incidentally, Subodh’s preoccupation with mobility, identity, migration and displacement lends a myriad quality to his ‘boats’, those slender fishing apparatus, loaded with objects which in some manner denote the inherent clash between movement and stasis. The pervasive air of displacement imbues the vessel with a sense of world-weariness. The absent figure of the man whose belongings we see loaded on the vessel, compels the observer to note, more acutely, the real nature of what we see and what we believe.
The artist oscillates between diverse media, collating disjointed nuggets of impressions and experiences, into a wholesome image, cast in metal, etched on a canvas, or as a recorded image. The inherently transient nature of memory builds in magnificently with the artistic urge to preserve for posterity the vestiges of what is seen, heard, felt, thought or believed.