Subodh Gupta is an Indian contemporary artist based in New Delhi. His work encompasses sculpture, installation, painting, photography, performance, and video. Gupta was born in Bihar. His father, a railway guard, died in his early forties when Gupta was 12. His mother came from a farming family and sent Gupta to live with her brother for a few years in a remote village. “Not a single school kid wore shoes, and there is no road to go to school. Sometimes we stop in the field and we sit down and eat green chickpeas before we go to school," he said in an interview with Ginny Dougray for The Times. "After leaving school, Gupta joined one of the four small theatre groups in Khagaul and worked as an actor for five years. He also designed posters to advertise the plays, which is when it was first suggested that he go to art college. He ended up working as a part-time newspaper designer and illustrator while studying at the College of Art, Patna (from 1983-1988). The day he was offered a permanent job by the newspaper, he packed it in to try his luck in Delhi, where he was awarded a scholarship by a government-run initiative, and a space to work in the Garhi Studios," wrote Dougray in her 2009 article "Subodh Gupta, India's hottest new artist, talks about skulls, milk pails, and cow dung."
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. And: 'I am the idol thief. I steal from the drama of Hindu life. And from the kitchen - these pots, they are like stolen goods, smuggled out of the country. Hindu kitchens are as important as prayer rooms.'
One of his 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. His oil on canvas painting 'Saat Samundar Paar' went under the hammer for Rs 34 million in the Saffronart autumn online auction. In 2008, he along with several other artists raised 39.3 million for Bihar flood victims. He has created a Banyan Tree from stainless steel which is kept in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
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