23rd June, 2008

INDIAN art should get ready to crown its new poster boy —Subodh Gupta. The money that has changed hands for just top seven canvases and installations by Gupta in auctions since January 2008 stands at awhopping Rs 20.43 crore. This outstanding figure makes him the only new generation Indian artist to have consistently done well at prestigious auctions held in New York, London, Paris, Mumbai and even Subodh Guptaonline, in the first six months of the year. Gupta bettered his personal auction record twice in aspan of 10 days. While art afficionados were still marvelling at the record of Rs 5.1 crore that his untitled installation made of stainless steel utensils garnered at the Christies auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art in London on June 11, soon followed the next record of Rs 5.7 crore for his untitled oil on canvas at Saffron Arts online auction on June 18- 19. Afavourite of the art collectors in the West, this 44- year- old Gurgaon- based artist has earned the sobriquet of being the Damien Hurst of India as The Guardian once, in one of its rare praises, generously described him. The newspaper had gone on to call him the current darling of booming Indian art market.” The feat is truly astonishing for an artist of his age —he came in agood 30 years or more later on the scene than the revered masters of Indian art like the late F. N. Souza and J. Swaminathan or the still active M. F. Hussain, S. H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta and Ram Kumar, who are known for making big bucks at art auctions. The artist himself, however, refuses to speak on auctions. In an earlier interview with MAIL TODAY ,he had said, “Iwill not speak on auctions at all. Im open to talking on anything else.” On his strength as an artist, he said, “Ithink my biggest strength is that even when Iwas starving in pursuit of art, Ididnt give up and continued to work hard.” From the little known Khagaul in Bihar, where he was born and raised, to being afavourite of Francois Pinnault, an important French collector who is better known as the owner of Gucci and part owner of the renowned auction house Christies, Gupta surely has come along way. He hasnt lost sight of his roots, though. Some of his best works are straight out of rural Indian milieu —cow dung cakes crafted in brass and pots and pans made of stainless steel, aluminium and iron pyrites. So, are we looking at the new Hussain of our times?

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