Subodh Gupta (Indian, b.1964) grew up in Bihar, one of India’s least economically developed states, and received his BFA from the College of Arts and Crafts in Patna. Gupta had already been working as a sculptor and painter for several years when his gallery, Nature Morte, exhibited the monumental bronze steel installation Gandhi’s Three Monkeys, made out of antique utensils, at Art Basel in 2007. He received great international acclaim for the piece, and later that year presented his sculpture Very Hungry God, a giant skull made out of stainless steel tiffin pots, in front of the Palazzo Grassi at Canal Grande, parallel to the Venice Biennale.
Gupta’s transformation of everyday objects into art installations has become characteristic of his work, playing on clichéd images of India’s rapidly changing society. Though he is best described as a sculptor, Gupta works with a variety of media, including painting, photography, and video. In identifying Indian icons that possess innate dichotomies, such as a colonial-style ambassador’s car, sacred cow dung, or the stainless steel utensils of a typical South Asian kitchen, Gupta questions the ambivalence of a society caught between traditional customs and globalization, booming wealth and impoverishment, and old caste politics and religious beliefs. Gupta, who is currently regarded as one of the most successful contemporary Indian artists, lives and works in New Delhi.