Subodh Gupta

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Subodh Gupta
Born 1964
Khagaul, Bihar, India
Occupation Artist

Subodh Gupta (born in 1964) is an artist based in New Delhi. He was born in Khagaul, land famous for ancient mathematician Aryabhata in Patna, Bihar. He studied at the College of Art, Patna in 1983–1988, before moving to New Delhi where he currently lives and works. Trained as a painter, he went on to experiment with a variety of media. His work encompasses sculpture, installation, painting, photography, performance and video. He is married to artist Bharti Kher.


Subodh Gupta is best known for incorporating everyday objects that are ubiquitous throughout India, such as the steel tiffin boxes used by millions to carry their lunch as well as thali pans, bicycles, and milk pails. From such ordinary items the artist produces sculptures that reflect on the economic transformation of his homeland and which relate to Gupta's own life and memories. As Gupta says: 'All these things were part of the way I grew up. They are used in the rituals and ceremonies that were part of my childhood. Indians either remember them from their youth, or they want to remember them.'[1] And: '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.'[2]

Gupta transforms the icons of Indian everyday life into artworks that are readable globally. He is among a generation of young Indian artists whose commentary tells of a country on the move, fuelled by boiling economic growth and a more materialistic mindset. Gupta's strategy of appropriating everyday objects and turning them into artworks that dissolve their former meaning and function brings him close to artists like Duchamp; The Guardian called him 'the Damien Hirst of Delhi.'[3] He succeeds in finding an art language that references India and at the same time can be appreciated for its aesthetic throughout world; as Gupta says: 'Art language is the same all over the world. Which allows me to be anywhere.'[4]

One of his recent major works, consisting of Indian cooking utensils, is 'Line of Control' (2008), a colossal mushroom cloud constructed entirely of pots and pans. The work was shown in the Tate Triennial at Tate Britain in 2009 and is currently exhibited at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi.[5]

Painting is also an important part of Subodh Gupta's art practice. His series 'Still Steal Steel' consists of photorealistic paintings of kitchen utensils falling and moving in space. In his early paintings, Gupta used another element of Indian every day life, cow dung. This is used in India for building houses and as fuel for cooking fires. Moreover, it is a cleaning agent. The idea that cow dung is inherently clean is ingrained in rural India. There, it is a purifying element, both ritual and symbolic. In his video 'Pure' (2000, 9 min.), Gupta takes the detergent concept literally and has filmed himself taking a shower, to free himself of the thick layer of dung that covers his body.

An earlier series of paintings is 'Saat Samunder Paar'. Baggages, migration and the "return home" have been enduring concerns of Subodh Gupta. It is a theme that crystallised in works such as 'Across the Seven Seas' (2006) where he uses baggage trolleys of modern airports to allude to the grim historical reality of migration from India, especially from his home state of Bihar.

In works that Subodh Gupta presented at Hauser & Wirth in October 2009, the artist moved away from composite sculptures toward objects that possess an auratic quality. Ready-made commodities experience transformations in scale and material. Relations to European art history were now to be found. Among the new works is a three-dimensional reworking in bronze of Duchamp's mustachioed Mona Lisa 'L.H.O.O.Q.' (1919).

His oil on canvas painting 'Saat Samundar Paar' went under the hammer for Rs 34 million in the Saffronart autumn online auction.[6] In 2008, he along with several other artists raised 39.3 million for Bihar flood victims.[7]

In 2010, Gupta designed the stage set for the ballet CREATION 2010 by Angelin Preljocaj, the French choreographer. The ballet was produced by the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, and the Ballet Preljocaj.

Recent solo exhibitions include 2011's ' Et Tu, Duchamp', at the KÖR am Kunsthalle in Vienna and ' A glass of water' at Hauser & Wirth, New York.

He has created a Banyan Tree from stainless steel which is kept in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.[8]

Subodh Gupta is represented by Hauser & Wirth.

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]



  • Everything is inside, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India


  • A glass of water, Hauser & Wirth, New York NY
  • Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere, Finland


  • Faith Matters, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine
  • Take off your shoes and wash your hands, Tramway, Glasgow, UK
  • Arario Gallery, Cheonan, Korea
  • Arario Gallery, Seoul, Korea
  • Et tu, Duchamp, KÖR Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Kunsthalle Wien project space, Vienna, Austria
  • Gallery Nature Morte, New Delhi, India
  • Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland


  • Common Man, Hauser & Wirth, London, UK
  • Line of Control, The Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia


  • Still Steal Steel, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City
  • There is always Cinema, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy
  • Line of Control, Arario Beijing, China


  • Start.Stop, Bodhi Art Gallery, Bombay
  • Silk Route, Baltic Art Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • Idol Thief, IN SITU - Fabienne Leclerc, Paris, France



  • Jootha, IN SITU - Fabienne Leclerc, Paris, France
  • I go home every single day, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York NY, USA
  • Jootha, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, India


  • I go home every single day, The Showroom Gallery, London, UK


  • Saat Samunder Paar, Gallery Nature Morte, New Delhi, India
  • This side is the other side, Art & Public, Geneva, Switzerland



  • Recent Works, Gallery Foundation for Indian Art, Amsterdam, Netherlands


  • Bose Pacia Modern, New York NY, USA
  • The Way Home, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai, India


  • Grey Zones, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, India

Selected works[edit]

  • Et tu, Duchamp?, black bronze, 114 x 88 x 59 cm, 2009
  • Jeff the Koons, aluminium, painted, 2009
  • Aam Aadmi, painted bronze mangoes, 2009
  • Wall, fibreglass cast of tree and wall, 2009
  • Spooning, 2 cast spoons, stainless steel, 34 x 275 x 52 cm, 2009
  • Line of Control, stainless steel utensils, 10 x 10 x 10 m, 2008
  • Date by Date, installation, 2008
  • Mind shut down, skull of stainless steel utensils and old utensils, 240 x 150 x 205 cm, 2008
  • Still Steal Steel #9, oil and enamel on canvas, 198 x 364 cm, 2008
  • Still Steal Steel #8, oil and enamel on canvas, 198 x 364 cm, 2008
  • School, 45 brass cast stools and stainless steel utensils, installation, 2008
  • Gandhi's Three Monkeys, bronze, old utensils, steel, three heads, one with terrorist mask, one with military helmet, one with gas mask, 2007–2008
  • Faith matters, sushibelt with cooking utensils, 2007–2008
  • U.F.O., brass and stainless steel utensils, 2007
  • 1 kg War, 1 kg gold, 24 carat, 2007
  • Potato Eaters, bronze potatoes, plastic bag, 45 x 35 x 15 cm, 2007
  • Bhandarghar, Indian pots, metal, ropes, 2007
  • Leap of Faith, stainless steel buckets, 700 x 180 x 180 cm, 2006
  • Cheap Rice, life size rickshaw, brass utensils, metal, 170 x 120 x 280 cm, 2006
  • Very Hungry God, skull of stainless steel utensils, 2006
  • Across Seven Seas, conveyor belt with luggage cast in bronze and aluminium, 2006
  • Curry, stainless steel utensils, 5 cabinets, 360 x 270 x 330 cm each cabinet, 2006
  • Cow, lifesize aluminium and bronze cast from bicycle and milk pails, 2005
  • Everything is Inside, taxi roof, luggage cast in bronze, 162 x 276 x 104 cm, 2004
  • Doot, lifesize aluminium cast of an Ambassador car, 2003
  • Saat Samunder Paar VII, oil on canvas, 167 x 228 cm, 2003
  • Bihari, cow dung, acrylic, sequence light on handmade paper, 109 x 76 cm, 1999
  • How to spell cow in Hindi (III), oil, acrylic, cowdung on canvas, 225 x 153 cm, 1999

Selected films and performances[edit]

  • Still Life Juggler, film on DVD, 1:50', 2008
  • All Things are Inside, film on DVD, 4:30', 2007
  • Haasil, appeared in his friend Tigmanshu Dhulia's film, 2003
  • Pure (I), performance at Khoj workshop, Modi Nagar, India, 1999
  • Pure, video on DVD, 9', 1999

See also[edit]

  • Gallery Nature Morte's Subodh Gupta page for biography, curriculum vitae and images.
Biography, bibliography, images and press - Subodh Gupta
Additional information and images – Subodh Gupta
Various other resources and images – Subodh Gupta
Modern and contemporary artists and art – Subodh Gupta
Raised in the northern province of Bihar (India's poorest and most violent) Subodh Gupta spent his formative years traveling with a Hindi language theatre group, working as a set designer and fabricator as well as an actor.
In her exhibition entitled Around and Around 1000 Times, Schandra Singh presents large-scale paintings that address the issue of escapism as a means of coping with suffering.
Subodh Gupta was born in Khagaul, Bihar. He did his BFA (Painting) from the College of Art Patna. He has had several solo shows including one at Bose Pacia Modern, New York in 1997.
American Gallery representing Subodh Gupta – additional images and information on past and current exhibitions
  • The installation refers to Indian workers in the Gulf States. On their way home after months of slaving away and living in the closest of quarters, they proudly carry their acquisitions with them in such cartons (never in suitcases).
Whilst the skull on everyone's lips of late has been Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted 'For the Love of God', the skull exciting many people at the Venice Biennale is by Indian artist Subodh Gupta. 'Very Hungry God', an enormous skull made out of stainless steel utensils, was first exhibited in Paris in 2006 and is now in the collection of François Pinault. 'Very Hungry God' is currently on view by the Grand Canal outside Pinault's Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Subdoh explains here the background to this work.
Subodh Gupta is one of India's most prolific artists and has participated in numerous highly acclaimed international exhibitions. Gupta works in a wide range of mediums from sculpture and painting to installation, photography, video and performance.
New Perspectives From India – images of work by contemporary Indian artists, including work of Subodh Gupta
Subodh Gupta works in a wide range of mediums from sculpture and painting to installation, photography, video and performance. He elevates the status of found objects from everyday items to artworks; using the products of rural India such as cow dung, milk buckets, kitchen utensils, scooters, guns and gulal powder as his materials.


External links[edit]