Subodh Gupta is considered the ‘Bad Boy’ of Indian Art. Most of his works that i have seen are based on the stereotypical Indian life. He makes Installations out of stainless steel containers that indians use to store food. You might come across towers of tiffins and stacks of ‘Bartans.’ He aims to make statements about stereotypes of Indian life hat rapidly change routines in global economy, and key historical cross-cultural exchanges.

“Like 80 percent of the population in India, I grew up carrying my lunch in these tiffin pots,” says the 43-year-old artist, a stern-looking but soft-spoken man who grew up in the countryside and now resides in Delhi.

Interestingly he says, “The objects I pick already have their own significance. I put them together to create new meanings.” 

Another of Gupta’s tiffin-pot sculptures, a giant skull titled Very Hungry God (2006), gained new meaning and iconic status last summer in Venice. “The work speaks to the cultural context through the skull imagery, which is an omnipresent motif in Venetian art and architecture,” says Alison Gingeras, chief curator at the palace, which shows works from François Pinault’s collection. “The overlap between the very precise cultural meaning relating to Gupta’s home country and the particular iconography of the city of Venice has made this work not only a huge popular success, but also has given rise to a rich cross-cultural and art-historical dialogue.” 

Cow (2005), a cast-bronze bicycle hung with shiny aluminum buckets, embodies the idea that “the bicycle is like a mechanized cow in the city,” explains Gupta. “In the country if I wanted milk, I would go to the cows to get it; in the city it is delivered to you by bicycle.” The polished finish of the work is appropriate for an object of veneration, which both cows and art are in different cultural contexts. Gupta has also worked with cow dung to explore the contrasts between city and country, old and new. In his video Pure (2000), the artist, thickly covered in manure, is slowly hosed off until he is naked. “Where I grew up, cow dung was used for spiritual cleansing,” he says, “something no longer believed in the city.” 

I think the closest relation i can find with the artist is, “My work is about where I come from,” he says. “But at the same time the expansion of the art world means that to a certain extent, everything is shrinking together, and you have to be aware of international discourses in your work.” Which i my point of view is very true. 

Certainly Gupta deals with Indian themes in a way that appeals to the Western eye. I want to keep in mind that even if i can making art to unionize my target audience or address Indian culture i cannot make it entirely Indian in terms of legibility and comprehension of the art piece.

Some other works: