Subodh Gupta

Silk Route

14 February 2007 - 29 April 2007

BALTIC presents Indian artist Subodh Gupta’s first solo exhibition in the UK. His work is influenced by his experience of displacement, migration and travel – giving an entertaining and ironic commentary on India’s rapidly changing society. Gupta has emerged as India’s key pop art figure creating works from everyday items which have significant resonance in Indian culture.

Gupta works in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance. Renowned for his large-scale sculptural installations, Gupta often uses materials from everyday Indian life including domestic stainless steels and old machinery. In India, stainless steel dishes are both domestic and desired objects. These artworks are often impressive, gleaming displays of hundreds of stainless steel kitchen items. Bowls, plates and pots arranged on shelves suggest a state of abundance, or in the case of Very Hungry God (2006) form the outline of a skull.

Throughout his work Gupta deals with his personal politics of being an individual who has provincial roots and has resettled in a major city like New Delhi. The titles of his work often exemplify cultural references to his local community and to his country. Characteristic examples include Cow (2003), a bicycle cast in bronze with milk churns attached or Leap of Faith (2005), a twenty-feet high tower of steel buckets. Recently, the artist introduced a monumental installation as a part of his Airport series. He created a conveyor belt showing 130 casts of luggage. The installation represented the oversized packages that arrive on the conveyor belt at Delhi’s International Airport when Indian migrant workers return after having worked in the Gulf States. “They work really hard there and after six months or a year they come home. Whatever they dream of and can afford they bring back in these enormous packs – ghathri. Their baggage represents the pride of going abroad and taking money back to their families, but it also means sharing rooms with ten or twelve other Indians in overcrowded conditions without their families and wives.” Subodh Gupta The work alludes to India’s always shifting migrations and evokes a sense of transience with all its changes – good or bad.

Because of his subject matter, Gupta effectively manages to communicate on both an international and local level, addressing subjects of personal importance: his family, home and local community. Gupta’s work references the traditional way of Indian life and examines multiple threats to its existence. This includes the growth of the middle class in Indian cities, the cross- border spread of pop culture and youth fashion, and how waves of globalization could penetrate local communities.

For his exhibition at BALTIC, Gupta presents a number of works including a new installation, The Silk Route.

Digital Archive

Archive Catalogue

Library Catalogue