Subodh Gupta (photo: Gauri Gill)
To coincide with The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today at the Saatchi Gallery, Subodh Gupta discusses his influences as an artist, India’s growing consumerism, his relationship to the Western world and what it means to be Indian today.
Has the term “postmodern” any meaning to you?”
I don’t know about any “ism” I believe in what I do.
Where would you locate contemporary Indian identity and are you, skeptical at the notion of “loss of identity”?
You cannot escape your identity; this is who and what you are. I believe identity can become a global entity. One is not always defined by nationality – and that suits me fine.
What are your early strongest influences?
My childhood memories as well as my life have always played a very important role in my works.
Could today’s India be summarized by the ambitions of consumerism?
As a rapidly developing country, India is progressing economically as well as technologically. In a state like ours, consumerism is an obvious facet to our personality. But at the same time it is not its most defining quality. For centuries, we have been central to the hybridization of various cultures for centuries that has conditioned us to balance, pick and choose bits of globalization that fits best with our way of life.
Do you see your work as a document or more as a comment of the, country’s enormous transformation?
My work emerges from the mundane, from my surroundings. Since cave paintings, art has always been a reflection of its times.
What is the “West” to you?
The span of Contemporary Art in the West runs approximately 300 years whereas in India, we have about 70 years. As an artist, that kind of history means a lot to me. It’s a different kind of education critical to one’s growth.
When did you first realize you were/wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be different. But I still had to find my medium of self-expression. That only came about later through self-awareness.