Subodh Gupta - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 17, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi; Private collection, Europe

  • Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Jack Shainman Gallery, Subodh Gupta,  New York, 2008, p. 205 (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, and East and West, 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 Oman to Madras, Gupta appropriates the iconography of the airport, a profoundly loaded symbol in the wake of 9/11. 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 luggage carts become monuments to contemporary society, purposely rejecting the
    bucolic and romanticized imagery of beautiful Indian village women and ox drawn carts, for the hard realities of waiting for your bags after a long flight.
    In rejecting this dated and romanticized vision of India, Gupta focuses on everyday realities like kitchen utensils, cow dung, motorcycles and of course travel and the unavoidable airport. Gupta believes that the airport has
    witnessed a communization over the decades, from the realm of the elite to that of a glorified bus stop for the
    masses. In this way the airport acts perfectly as one of the artists quintessential icons suggesting both remnants of wealth and privilege as international travel often is and inferences of necessity and the masses as air travel reaches a larger and larger demographic. Gupta’s airport paintings and sculptures are purposely ambiguous, never revealing whether they represent the origin of the journey or the final destination. In this way, Gupta’s luggage carts become transient monuments to the nature of travel, reducing the traveler to the contents of their baggage, lonely, isolated and belonging to no one. The depersonalization of luggage in Gupta’s work and the cold
    minimalistic way in which the works are executed summon the fear now associated with airports security check in and the risk of these bronze and steel bundles masking contents of loaded bombs and terrorist implements.


Oman to Madras

Cast bronze with gold patina and aluminium in three parts.
115 x 69 x 90 cm. (45 1/4 x 27 1/8 x 35 1/2 in).
This work is from an edition of three plus one artist's proof.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £139,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

18 Oct 2008, 7pm