Subodh Gupta - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Literature

    N. Bourriad, S. Kalidas, D. Cameron, Subodh Gupta, Hyderabad, 2008, p. 91 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Subodh Gupta draws heavily from his own experience in culling material for his art, recasting traditional objects of Indian culture in contemporary media and contexts. Growing up in the remote town of Bihar before moving to New Delhi, India’s capital and a teaming metropolis of over 13 million inhabitants, the tension between urban and rural life is omnipresent in Gupta’s oeuvre. Possessing an uncanny knack for identifying objects and icons of Indian culture that reveal inherent tensions between the traditional and modern, rich and devastatingly poor, East andWest, Gupta is able to imbue these common objects, through re-casting and re-contextualizing, with poignant and inevitably clever relevance. Curator and gallery director Peter Nagy explains, “Subodh is very good at selecting icons and symbols, there is something in the way Gandhi worked here. Gandhi used the very simple elements of salt or homespun cotton to overturn a colonial empire. Subodh uses pots, bicycles and milk pails to talk about the great changes occurring in India today…and these symbols that Subodh uses, acts as flashpoints for this in-between moment” (Peter Nagy in discussion with Christopher Mooney published in
    In this work, Gupta recasts simple branches of bamboo as gleaming chrome wands and arranges them with a simplicity that is more suggestive of American 1970s Minimalism than the messy reality of Indian daily life. Bamboo, which is commonly used for building and to make furniture, becomes an object of mystique and reverence in this work, which is appropriately titled Magic Wands.
    Looking back through South Asian art history, Mahatma Gandhi famously believed that the true India was to be found in its villages, an idea which permeated artists’ representation of the country for decades.The contemporary and industrialized realities of living in India only began emerging in indigenous art over the last two decades.Thus, Gupta’s Magic Wands become monumentalized icons of rural life. An ironically industrialized homage to Ghandi’s India.


Magic Wands 6


Chrome-plated aluminum in 21 parts.

62 x 2 x 2 in. (157.5 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm) each.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $140,500

Contemporary Art Part I

13 Nov 2008, 7pm
New York