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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘Subodh Gupta’

Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


For some time now, the Indian art market has been reviving after the post-2008 buying slump. New Delhi-based journalist John Elliott, who runs the current affairs blog Riding the Elephant, reports in a recent post that now it may well be on the first step towards similar pre-2008 peak figures. However, the artists raking in money this time around are not contemporary but modern Indian artists.

In June this year, Sotheby’s raised USD7.9m in a mostly Indian art sales. In the same month, Saffronart sold art worth USD6.7m, and together with a Christie’s two day sale of USD18.1m, Indian art sales for the month of June totaled a substantial USD32.7m.

Rabindranath Tagore. Portrait of a woman.

Rabindranath Tagore's 'Portrait of a Woman' sold for over USD461,000 at Sotheby's.

Elliott reports that ArtTactic, a London based art market analysis firm believes that average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to levels seen at the market’s peak in June 2008. Anders Peterson, who runs the firm, adds that,

The return in the confidence for the Indian art market is at the high end of the market.

A significant change from the trends of 2008 is the consistent sales of established veteran artists of Indian modern art rather than contemporary artists. However, given the overall push in the performance of the market, contemporary sales have also picked up. ArtTactic reports that previously popular contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat are still lagging far below 2007-2008 prices.

Saffronart founder and owner Dinesh Vazirani agrees with ArtTactic’s line on modern art. He says,

Auction prices are reasonably close to their 2008 peak. Serious collectors are there and this is backed with confidence in the Indian economy and with people investing as a hedge against inflation.

But how much do these results tell us about trends in buying Indian art? Anders Peterson from ArtTactic believes that,

Auctions are now a filtered version of the reality in the art market. Lots that are likely to sell are works of high quality, rarity and outstanding provenance. Works that do not demonstrate these qualities are still selling at lower prices or not at all. Therefore the return in confidence is at the high end of the market.

SH Raza. Rajasthan.

SH Raza's 'Rajasthan'.

The highlight of the Sotheby‘s sale were the works of Indian modernist painter, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, while Saffronart relied on modern art veterans like S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris. His wife, Janine Mongillat, died in April 2002.


Related Topics: Indian art, Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, market watch- auctions

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, Indian, London, Market watch, Painting, Progressive Artists' Group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Top 20 Asian artists June 2010: Art Radar Asia’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on July 26, 2010


In January this year, we published the article, “Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists, listing Art Radar Asia‘s most searched for artists to the end of 2009. This was so popular with our readers that we have decided to publish these results again. This list below highlights artists searched for between 30 June 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

Art Radar Asia receives an average of 27,000 page views a month. Our readers come to us in various ways: via links from other websites, from Twitter, facebook and other social media, from our email newsletter, from word of mouth referrals and, of course, via search engines.

Many readers find us by typing a specific artist name into Google or another search engine and finding a story written or image published by Art Radar Asia. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data, too. The search terms used by readers when finding each artist are varied. For example, common search terms recorded for Japanese artist Takashi Murakami included: “takashi murakami”, “murakami”, “murakami takashi”, “takashi murakami art” and “takeshi murakami”.

Art Radar Asia‘s 20 most searched artists – the list

We can’t claim that this list is a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian artists on the Internet overall (take a look at our notes at the bottom of this article). However, we do think the list throws up some fascinating data, particularly when compared with the 2009 results.

  1. Takashi Murakami – male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 36,086  searches (34,000, December 2009)
  2. Shirin Neshat – female Iranian photographer – 4,532 searches (2,200, December 2009)
  3. Anish Kapoor – male British-Indian sculptor – 4,246 searches (3,500, December 2009)
  4. Marina Abramović – female New York-based Serbian performance artist – 3,092 searches (not listed, December 2009)
  5. Yoshitaka Amano – male Japanese anime artist – 829 searches (460, December 2009)
  6. Cao Fei – female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 672 searches
  7. Terence Koh – male Canadian-Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 634 searches
  8. I Nyoman Masriadi – male Indonesian painter – 625 searches
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 521 searches
  10. Hiroshi Sugimoto – male Japanese photographer – 503 seaches
  11. Subodh Gupta – male Indian painter, installation artist – 417 searches
  12. Ori Gersht – male Israeli photographer – 408 searches
  13. Ronald Ventura – male Filipino painter – 393 searches
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – male Iranian thread artist – 377 searches
  15. Farhard Moshiri – male Iranian painter – 363 searches
  16. Jitish Kallat – male Indian painter – 329 searches
  17. Gao Xingjian – male Chinese-French ink artist – 301 searches
  18. Bharti Kher – female Indian-British painter, sculptor and installation artist – 270 searches
  19. Shahzia Sikander – female Pakistani miniaturist – 264 searches
  20. Zhang Huan – male Chinese performance artist – 237 searches

How has the top 5 changed?

As with the last list, published at the end of 2009, Takashi Murakami is still holding the title spot with more than 36,000 searches. This is compared with 34,000 in 2009’s list. Shirin Neshat and Anish Kapoor have switched places since the previous list, although the difference between their numbers is somewhat insignificant. Yoshitaka Amano is new to the top 5, moving up to 5th place from 6th place in 2009, perhaps due to the 2010 announcement that he has established a film production company called Studio Deva Loka, in addition to directing a 3D anime named Zan. These announcements followed a small solo tour of his artwork. Marina Abramović has surged into the top 5 this time around, particularly notable as she did not appear on the 2009 list. This is most likely due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”.

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

How has the list changed since it was first published?

The following artists have returned since the 2009 list was published, but many have moved up or down by one or two places: Cao Fei (4, 2009); I Nyoman Masriadi (5, 2009); Ori Gersht (7, 2009); Terence Koh (8, 2009); AES+F (9, 2009); Ronald Ventura (10, 2009); Hiroshi Sugimoto (11, 2009); Farhad Moshiri (12, 2009); Subodh Gupta (13, 2009); Farhard Moshiri (12, 2009) ; Farhad Ahrarnia (14, 2009); Gao Xingjian (15, 2009); Jitish Kallat (16, 2009).

There are some new additions: Marina Abramović, perhaps due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”; Shahzia Sikander, whose medium has recently become popular with collectors and critics and who has herself surged into prominence with a win at ART HK 10 ; Bharti Kher, whose works are currently auctioning for large sums; and Zhang Huan, who has had a number of permanent sculptures installed in US cities this year, and whose company designed the permanent public sculpture for the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Only Chinese ink artist Wucius Wong doesn’t reappear. His surge in popularity in 2009 may have been due to the retrospective exhibition, “Myriad Visions of Wucius Wong“, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Preferred media of most-searched artists: miniatures and performance art rising in popularity

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Six of the artists are known primarily for painting, compared with only five in the 2009 list, and once again, this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors. Miniature painting and performance art seem to be new topics of interest for readers.

Artist Age

Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s, as you would expect for a contemporary art website.

Interestingly, Shirin Neshat (Iranian photographer), Anish Kapoor (British Indian sculptor), Marina Abramović (Serbian performance artist), Yoshitaka Amano (Japanese anime), all born before 1960, were listed as number 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Of course, due to their age and time spent working in the arts, they each have large bodies of work which are consistently being exhibited, collected and discussed.

Artist Gender

male 14 (13, 2009); female 5 (3, 2009); mixed collective 1 (1, 2009)

In the year to June 2010, there were more female artists on the list though men still dominated (approx. 75 percent). Those female artists who were on both lists appeared higher up this year than last.

Breakdown of artist nationalities

Chinese 4 (4, 2009); Indian 4 (4, 2009); Iranian 3 (3, 2009); Japanese 3 (3, 2009); Serbian 1 (not listed, 2009); Israeli 1 (1, 2009); Indonesian (1, 2009); Filipino (1, 2009); Russian (1, 2009)

As you can see, this result is almost identical to the previous result, with the edition of one Serbian artist (Marina Abramović, Serbian performance artist). Once again, artists from China and India are among the most searched nationality, despite fears the Indian art market would be slow to recover after the 2008-2009 global art market turndown.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the internet overall. Here is why: If we have not written a story on or tagged this artist, the search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it won’t appear on our traffic analysis stats page. As we have only been up for 18 months it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. And even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly-searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a good page ranking for the story on the search engine.  For example if the story is, say, after page 4 of the search engine results, the searcher probably won’t find our story and will not appear in our stats. Despite these limitations the data is likely to be a reliable indicator for certain trends. Finally even if we have a story and the story is well-ranked, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.


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“The Empire Strikes Back – Indian art Today” at Saatchi Gallery: critics’ review roundup

Posted by artradar on February 24, 2010


“The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today” opened on 28 January 2010 at Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London. It has received attention from critics interested in both the cultural implications of contemporary Indian art in British society and the exhibition’s impact on the art market.

Intensity and violence are found in some stand out works but the consensus suggests an uneven show.

According to the Business Standard, over 100 works of 26 Indian artists are being displayed. Price estimates are included for some works.

Also concerned with the art market, Colin Gleadell of The Daily Telegraph contemplates the impact of “The Empire Strikes Back” on the value of Saatchi’s investment in Indian contemporary art. He also summarises the fluctuations in the Indian contemporary art market.

Generally, critics’ reviews have been mixed: though they support the concept of showing contemporary Indian artists, many claim that there are only a few standouts.

The Financial Times‘s Peter Aspden is intrigued by “contrast between the work’s wholesome message and the gruesome imagery used to deliver it” in Jitish Kallat’s Public Notice 2, the first work in the show.

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

He then interviews Rebecca Wilson, the associate director of Saatchi Gallery. She explains Saatchi Gallery’s reasons for organising the show, focusing on global trends regarding Indian and Pakistani contemporary art and the sheer volume of new artists from the region.

The Guardian’s Adrian Searle begins with “One might expect Charles Saatchi to show just the sorts of things that are presented,” listing works like Huma Mulji’s Arabian Delight and Atul Dodiya’s Fool’s House as expected works. He concludes “A lot of the work looks exoticised for the gallery, the artists playing their post-colonial otherness as a gimmick, rather than making art of substance.”

JJ Charlesworth of Time Out London also concedes that there are works of “bog-obviousness,” but especially praises Chitra Ganesh’s Tales of Amnesia, consisting of 21 comic-inspired prints that question the role of femininity in society.

Husband-and-wife Subdoh Gupta and Bharti Kher impress Ben Luke of London’s Evening Standard, though he mentions the “collection’s unevenness.”

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Luke is especially interested in Bharti Kher’s An Absence of Assignable Cause, which is her conception of a sperm whale’s heart covered in bindis.

The Times’ Joanna Pitman is fascinated by the artists who “push their media into almost illegible territories, as if to say that art could not possibly be adequate to record what really matters.”

Probir Gupta’s painting Anxiety of the Unfamiliar and Tallur L.N.’s Untitled both depict what she describes as “bleary fragments, the chance events, and barely registered perceptions of this imbalanced, disturbed country.”

However, Pitman also comments on the unevenness of the show: “Many works resemble the outpourings of pained and confused undergraduate minds.”

Mark Sheerin of Culture 24 is also struck by the intensity present throughout the works. He  claims that, “At best, such high impact work can astound and violently re-orient you” and cites Tushar Joag’s The Enlightening Army of the Empire’s “skeletal, spectral band of robotic figures” as a prime example.

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

He encourages the reader to “come and let the works do violence to you. They should be resisted, if at all.”

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Posted in Asia expands, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Consumerism, Gallery shows, Heart art, Indian, Jitish Kallat, Light, London, Overviews, Political, Rashid Rana, Reviews, Robot, Saatchi, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on January 5, 2010


We have been up and running for over 18 months now and we receive over 25,000 page views a month. Our readers come to us in various ways: via links from other websites, from twitter, facebook and other social media, from our email newsletter, from word of mouth referrals and of course via search engines.

Many readers find us by typing a specific artist name into Google or another search engine and finding a story or image written by Art Radar. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data too.

Wucius Wong

Wucius Wong

We can’t claim that this list is a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian artists on the internet overall (take a look at our caveats below). However we do think the list throws up some fascinating data.

  1. Takashi Murakami – Male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 34,000 searches
  2. Anish Kapoor – Male British Indian sculptor – 3,500
  3. Shirin Neshat – Female Iranian photographer – 2,200
  4. Cao Fei – Female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 550
  5. I Nyoman Masriadi – Male Indonesian painter – 520
  6. Yoshitaka Amano – Male Japanese anime artist – 460
  7. Ori Gersht – Male Israeli photographer – 380
  8. Terence Koh – Male Canadian Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 340
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 320
  10. Ronald Ventura – Male Filipino painter – 280
  11. Hiroshi Sugimoto – Male Japanese photographer – 260
  12. Farhad Moshiri – Male Iranian painter – 240
  13. Subodh Gupta – Male Indian painter, installation artist – 210
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – Female Iranian thread artist – 180
  15. Gao Xingjian – Male Chinese ink artist – 180
  16. Jitish Kallat – Male Indian painter – 170
  17. Wucius Wong – Male Hong Kong Chinese ink artist – 160

The most startling finding is the “‘winner takes all” phenomenon. Takashi Murakami searches are 10 times the second most-searched artist and more than 100 times most of the artists on the list. This correlates with some of the latest findings on internet searches which are tending towards an L shape ie  there are blockbuster categories and a long tail of niches in which a vast number of categories each receive very few searches.

I Nyoman Masriadi

I Nyoman Masriadi

The well-known book “The Long Tail”‘ first brought the long tail phenomenon to light and it was expected that searchers given the choice would no longer need to cluster around a blockbuster because that was what was most readily available but would be able to choose between a myriad of interest categories. The latest research is showing that the long tail is indeed happening but that the long tail is not diminishing interest in blockbusters, instead the long tail is taking away from the middle-interest categories.

This pattern seems to be borne out in our data.  This trend could have some profound implications for the way that artists are marketed in the future. Perhaps art galleries as we now know them will go the way of independent bookstores and publishers, unable to afford the marketing costs needed to create blockbusters and unable to sell enough in the niches to survive. We would like to hear more about your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.

Farhad Ahrarnia, The Struggle Within

Farhad Ahrarnia, The Struggle Within

Preferred media of most-searched artists

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Only 5 of the artists are known primarily for painting and this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors.  Chinese ink, thread and anime make intriguing appearances on the list too.


Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s as you would expect for a contemporary art site. But there are some surprise appearances for 2 older artists Gao Xingjian born 1940 and Wucius Wong born 1936. What is even more interesting is that both of these artists are Chinese and work in the same, very national genre of ink. While new media dominates, the inclusion of traditional Chinese ink art suggests a countertrend in which historical media and disciplines are being appreciated by contemporary art enthusiasts.


Male 13, Female 3, Mixed collective 1

Farhad Moshiri

Farhad Moshiri

Breakdown of nationalities

Chinese 4, Indian 3, Iranian 3, Japanese 3, Israeli, Indonesian, Filipino and Russian 1 each

While it is commonly known that there is now great international interest in the Chinese, Indian and Iranian art scenes we were fascinated to note the high ranking of two painters from Southeast Asia: Indonesian artist I Nyoman Masriadi and Filipino Ronald Ventura.  The  Southeast Asian collector base is composed of a small group of prominent Indonesian Chinese businessmen collectors. Artists from Southeast Asia find themselves in a somewhat enclosed and isolated art scene and are rarely exhibited outside the region. We did not expect to see Southeast Asian artists achieving a high ranking for internet searches.

Yoshitaka Amano

Yoshitaka Amano


This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the internet overall. Here is why:

If we have not written a story on or tagged this artist, the search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it won’t appear on our traffic analysis stats page. As we have only been up for 18 months it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. And even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly-searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a good page ranking for the story on the search engine.  For example if the story is, say, after page 4 of the search engine results, the searcher probably won’t find our story and will not appear in our stats. Despite these limitations the data is likely to be a reliable indicator for certain trends. Finally even if we have a story and the story is well-ranked, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.

More recent lists: June 2010

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Art industry elite meet at inaugural Abu Dhabi Art fair

Posted by artradar on December 21, 2009


The inaugural Abu Dhabi Art fair opened to much fanfare on November 19th. The government-run Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) organized the fair, along with the area’s new cultural district on Saadiyat Island.

The project features the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by architect Frank Gehry, the Louvre Abu Dhabi by architect Jean Nouvel, the Performing Arts Centre by architect Zaha Hadid, the Maritime Museum by architect Tadao Ando, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum by architect Foster + Partners Ltd.

In attendance at the event were big time players from the Western art world, including London’s White Cube, New York’s Acquavella Galleries, and Dubai’s Third Line and B21. Megacollector François Pinault along with Jeff Koons were in attendance as special patrons.

Jeff Koons on left, François Pinault on right.

According to ArtForum who covered the event, Abu Dhabi Art was really two fairs under one roof. On the one hand, there was a slew of young galleries from places like Bangalore, Damascus, and Dubai, showing works that ranged from calligraphic kitsch to more promising endeavors. The other fair was a higher-stakes arena, featuring major New York and European dealers.

Dealer Iwan Wirth, from Hauser & Wirth, in front of a large Louise Bourgeois spider

Hauser & Wirth brought a large Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture and Subodh Gupta skull, while White Cube offered sparkling paintings by Hirst. Tony Shafrazi hung his ’80s-themed stand with Basquiats, Warhols, and Harings. A consortium of seven dealers, including L&M Arts, Malingue, and Louis Carre & Cie, combined forces with Picassos and Légers.

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A common man uncommonly direct – Indian contemporary sculptor Subodh Gupta in conversation in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on December 6, 2009


New Delhi-based contemporary artist Subodh Gupta is not backward in coming forward with his views. Smiling firmly, he chose not to respond to introductory remarks made by moderator William Pym, Managing Editor of Art Asia Pacific magazine at a talk hosted as a side-event of the Christie’s Hong Kong autumn 2009 auctions .

Instead he turned to face the audience: “Let me tell you all clearly why I am here today. Originally this was supposed to be a one-on-one talk with Art Asia Pacific. I was happy about that. But then it turned into a group talk hosted by Christies. I prefer to work with curators, writers and critics rather than auction houses”. Christie’s Hugo Weihe, International Director of Asian Art who was sitting in the front row looked slightly startled.

So Subodh Gupta is a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks….this talk was shaping up to be interesting.

Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta

Moving attention swiftly to the art, Pym invited Gupta to discuss a series of slides of his works many of which were featured in his Hauser and Wirth solo show “Common Man” which ended October 2009.

Subodh Gupta, A Penny for Belief II

One set of works comprised three over-sized thalis (thali is a Hindi word meaning plate on which a series of small bowls of food are placed) each featuring its own grouping of like items: used sandals, kitchen utensils and coins in oil.
Gupta explained that a primary source of inspiration is what he sees and has seen in his everyday environment, the objects which surround him. His trademark references to Indian kitchen utensils reference his earliest experiences:

He was born (one of six children) in the northeastern state of Bihar, which he describes as the Wild West of India. His father, a railway guard, was a drinker and died in his early forties, when Gupta was 12. His mother, who came from a farming family, sent him off to live with her brother for a few years in a remote village — “Not a single school kid wore shoes, and there is no road to go to school. Sometimes we stop in the field and we sit down and eat green chickpea before we go to school. (Times)

Today however Gupta sporting international urban grunge-style clothing complete with goatee, only haltingly accepted the  proposal suggested by Pym that he might be a cultural ambassador for India, someone who plays a role in teaching the world about his native country. “My inspiration comes from everyday life. Yes I suppose you can say I am an ambassador but only by chance because I am from India. Every artist reflects their own cultural environment. Nowadays I live in the world, I see more of the world. My art expresses that.”

The assemblage of local and global influences is evident in Penny for Belief II in which a large thali is filled with oil and coins. He explained that his globe-trotting lifestyle led him to notice that many cultures share behaviourse for expample the belief in the value of throwing coins for blessings. Local rites have underlying universal themes.  “In the United Kingdom, China and India, they throw coins into different things: oil, water and empty pots. But they all believe in throwing coins”.

Observant pattern-seeking Gupta is an artist who believes that art is a conceptual endeavour. Ever direct, he looked straight at the audience as he said: “If you still believe  that artists today make art themselves, you are romanticising.   My job as an artist is to think, conceive the ideas. My art is made up for me by expert artisans all over the world, the thali works were made in America. The Jeff Koons boxes were cast in Zurich.”

After leaving school, Gupta joined a small theatre group in Khagaul and worked as an actor for five years. This has informed his view of his role as an artist. “As an artist I have to adapt myself to the subject of my art. An artist is like an actor, he also has to adapt himself”.

Gupta clearly relishes art-making as a participatory and flexible endeavour and  he is comfortable allowing viewers of his work to join in too. He explained that he let visitors throw their own coins into his thali artwork. “Didn’t the guards at the Hauser and Wirth gallery stop people from doing that, they are usually very protective of the art” asked Pym looking surprised. “No we told the guards to let visitors throw their own coins. It is part of the art and, you know what, we had coins from all over the world”.

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Despite his willingness to farm out the manual process of art-making, Gupta’s has a deep respect for labour and hard toil. He described how the sandals in “I Believe You” were sourced: “I noticed that  the labourers in India wear sandals and each bears the mark, the footprint of its owner. Unique marks, like fingerprints. I bought some new sandals and swapped them for the workers’ used slippers. They symbolise these people in India – and of course all over the world – who work day to day for their bread and butter. These hard-working honest labourers. In this piece I am saying: I honour you, worship you, believe you. It is almost like a prayer. Thalis have associations not only with food but also with prayer.”

Subodh Gupta

Labourers and travel remained the focus of the conversation as it turned to slides of his renowned luggage trolley series which included one of Subodh Gupta’s sculpture of a gilded bronze luggage trolley and three pieces of aluminium luggage called Vehicle for the Seven Seas (2004). According to Artcurial, this work posted an auction record price for the Indian artist when it fetched €502,330 ($785,243), more than triple its €140,000-180,000 estimate, under the gavel on April 3 2008.

Though he must have recounted the story behind this series many times before, Gupta’s explanation was engaging and articulate. “I had not travelled outside India until 1993. After that I often flew between Europe and India and because I bought cheap tickets, there was usually a stopover in Dubai or Kuwait. I noticed that on the return journey to India the plane was often empty for the first leg of the journey and then in the Middle East stopover the plane was filled with Indians, my people, migrant workers from India.”

He noticed that they had a particular and unique way of wrapping up their belongings for the journey. He became more and more intrigued by these packages and pieces of luggage which were so tightly and securely wrapped. ” I began to get talking to the passengers who were tailors and taxi drivers and construction labourers … I asked them what was inside. It turned out that the contents were quite ordinary, their everyday belongings plus a few clothes for their children, perhaps a little jewellery for their wives. But these parcels seemed to me to be themselves like jewellery and so I started working on them”.

Wrappings as a source of inspiration and of value in their own right is a motif which recurs in his work. In his ‘Jeff the Koons’ installation, Gupta has cast in aluminum copies of the cardboard boxes that Koons’ mailorder ‘Puppy’ sculptures come in.

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

In this work, Gupta shows us his playful side. Packaging materials rather than the contents become the focus of attention, the new and greater source of interest. And Gupta is not afraid to have a little fun, be a little cheeky: he distracts us and leads our attention away from the art (even though this art is made by world-famous artist Jeff Koons) and towards the packaging of it as if it were just as or more important. But Gupta’s irony is only employed with permission. “I first saw the boxes in Saint Tropez. When I was told that they were the boxes in which Koons’ sculptures had travelled there I was inspired. I wanted to cast them. I was told that maybe Jeff Koons would sue me unless I asked permission. So I waited 3 years until mutual friends finally introduced us and Koons gave me permission.”

“Jeff the Koons” is a work reminiscent of Warhol’s pivotal 1964 work Brillo Boxes too. These days Gupta likes to riff on iconic Western artworks. This has earned him well-worn monikers such as the “Damien Hirst of Delhi” and “Marcel Duchamp of the Subcontinent”.  What does he think of these tags wondered Pym. “These titles seem to follow you from one press article to another. How do you feel about that?” “Well I find that it is usually the journalists who know the least about art who like to use them. I like Damien Hirst as an artist but I don’t see myself as him. Anyway what is written about me is not in my control. I just make art”

The son of a railway guard who arrived penniless in Delhi in 1988, Gupta who produced conventional canvases for many years before making sculpture,  has clearly come a long way. Now Gupta’s everyday, his immediate sphere, his source of inspiration is no longer a rural world of steel buckets and tiffin boxes. Instead his environment is one of international travel, world-class art and well-deserved prominence.

Yet despite all this, Subodh Gupta is a man who remembers and honours the “common man”. Pym recounted how Gupta’s bronze sculpture of hand-painted mangos Aam Aadmi was his mother’s favourite work in the show. Gupta laughed. “I am glad about that because it is my favourite work too. I named the show after this work. Aam is a reference to mango fruit and to the common man. It is the King of Fruit in India. It is grown everywhere unlike other fruit so everyone can eat mango.”

Subodh Gupta Aam Aadmi

Subodh Gupta, Aam Aadmi, 2009

Although he can be disconcertingly direct, sometimes to the point of being dismissive, it is hard not to like Subodh Gupta for his integrity, his humility and his fearlessness. Gupta may not be happy with Christie’s but the audience was thrilled by their up-close encounter with this complex engaging artist which Christie’s helped to host and promote.

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Posted in China, Collaborative, Conceptual, Hong Kong, Indian, Interviews, Journey art, Large art, Migration, Participatory, Subodh Gupta | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Newslink round up Art Basel 2009 – Indian, Japanese artists dominate coverage of Asians

Posted by artradar on June 24, 2009


Much of the traditional coverage of Art Basel takes the same format: descriptions of some highlighted artworks are interwoven with information about sales generally and, dealers willing, specifically. From this gathering of anecdotal, far-from-objective evidence some kind of assessment of the buoyancy of the market is made.


This year the consensus view emerges that, from a base of very low expectations and to the relief of dealers, sales were made and perhaps were even quite strong.

Blogs offer some alternative reporting – see in particular the Sojones blog about the fast-selling artwork “Simple Things” – made of everyday objects encrusted with tens of thousands of precious jewels – which was a collaboration between musician Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami. This post by a non-fine arts blog took one small element of the fair and provided a link-rich comprehensive report. This may be a glimpse of the future of arts reporting. We hope so because there remain many untold stories about the fair …

Other themes extensively reported by the papers and blogs included  Brad Pitt’s purchases. Less predictable was the wide coverage given to “Il Tempo del Postino“, described as a show in time rather in space and as the “world’s first visual arts opera”.

For a list of Asian artists given press coverage see the tags at the bottom. Their names are also highlighted in grey in the article descriptions. It is interesting to note that these were mostly Japanese and Indian.

Collectors pleased with Art Basel 40 FairJapan Times – 19 June – “Art market is surprisingly healthy” Sep 09 to Mar 09 was difficult for dealers but Basel has coincided with an uptick in activity. Sales by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Other Asian artists mentioned included veteran Yayoi Kusama, and new or under-rcognised artists such as Teppei Kaneuji, Ei Arakawa.

After Art Basel, dealers have high hopes for London salesWall Street Journal – 19 June – Fair organisers talked of ‘unexpectedly strong’ sales and dealers seemed happy though no final sales figure has been released. 61000 visitors the highest number ever.


Recession appealThe Economist – 18 June – A piece about sales – “by all nebulous barometers, business in Basel was satisfactory, possibly even very good”. Sales included Indian artists Anish Kapoor, Raqib Shaw. Posits 4 reasons for buoyant sales: return of collectors in down market, discounting, diversion of money out of Swiss bank accounts and perception art a stronger asset class.

Art Unlimited Part 2 – Art Basel videoVernissage TV – 16 June – In this video walkthrough find works by Gabriele di Matteo, Li Dafang, Willem Boshoff, David Shrigley, Marcel van Eeden, Mel Bochner, Anthony McCall, Sigmar Polke, Steven Shearer, Lawrence Weiner, Goran Petercol, Aernout Mik, Stephan Balkenhol, Tatjana Doll, Chen Zhen, Natalie Djurberg, Sarah Oppenheimer, Bharti Kher, Falke Pisano, Clegg & Guttmann, Banks Violette, and Hans op de Beeck.

Art Basel Vernissage Arrested Motion – 16 June – Over 60 images of artworks

Jeppe Hein loop bench at Art BaselDesigncrave – 15 June – Good pics of this piece of large crossover art.

Pharrell Williams’ and Takashi Murakami’s “Simple Things” sold for more than $2millionSojones – 15 June 2009 – One of the most comprehensive pieces to cover the sale within 30 minutes of the opening of Simple Things, an artwork encrusted with 26,000 jewels by music man Pharrell Williams in conjunction with Takashi Murakami. A link to a great video interview with Farrell talking about the artwork.

 Art 40 Basel: Extraordinary quality, surprisingly strong results Art Basel press release – 14 June – This press release is a closing statement rounding up the fair’s achievements and successes. Lists artists who attended including Subodh Gupta. Over 50 museum groups attended. Over 61000 visitors, over 300 galleries from 29 countries, more than 2500 artists. “Il Tempo del Postino”


Art Basel 2009 – videoVernissage TV – 13 June – video walkthrough

Surprise success: Art Basel dispels credit crunch blues The Art Newspaper – 12 June – Lists celebrities and collectors present. Fewer American collectors mostly Europeans did the buying. “The recession compelled dealers to bring their best”. Everyone was “sniffing”‘ for discounts and if dealers were flexible sales were made. Long list of specific artwork sales made.

Window shoppers – seasoned collectors spend carefully at Art BaselWall Street Journal – 12 June –  A list of collectors who visited (American collectors: the Horts and Craig Robins) and art advisers (Sandy Heller who buys for Steve Cohen and Philippe Segalot adviser to Francois Pinault owner of Christie’s).  Also lists some of 101 artists who were also at Venice Biennale. Relief that some sales were made. Describes ways galleries saved money. Asian artists mentioned On Kawara, Subodh Gupta.

A Thriftier Lot comes to Art Basel this yearNew York Times – 11 June – This piece lists some of the artwork highlights on show and collectors and curators who attended. Art was more conservative than last year and focused on big rather than new names. Expectations so low that there was relief that some business was done.

Warhol price slashed as Art Basel fights slump with bargainsBloomberg – 9 June – Long 25 paragraph piece made up of snippets of market information based on gallery interviews. Leading para is about trimming of prices this year – other interesting comments: Art Basel will be 2 shows this year both work on show and discreet consignment sales on behalf of collectors; Kapoor prices holding steady, pure New York market gone with some dealers missing this year but still interest from Asia and some parts of Europe.

Art Unlimited – Art Basel video part 1 – Vernissage TV – 9 June – This year’s Art Unlimited exhibition of the international art fair Art 40 Basel in Basel, Switzerland, marks the tenth edition of Art Basel’s sector for large sculptures, and installation and video art. Works by Elisabetta Benassi, Yoshitomo Nara, Beat Zoderer, Sislej Xhafa, Ayse Erkmen, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Fabrice Gygi, Surdashan Shetty, Farhad Moshiri, Jesús Fafael Soto, Sterling Ruby, Laurence Weiner, Franz Erhard Walter, Steven Shearer, Nedko Solakov, :Mentalklinik, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Stephan Balkenhol, and Matthew Day Jackson.

Editor’s Picks: Art Basel Preview Artinfo – 8 June – Useful link to an image carousel showing works being presented at 42 galleries, many with price information.

For art lovers Basel doesn’t end at the fairNew York Times Travel Section – 7 June – Long comprehensive post covering what to eat, where to sleep and what to see in Basel. Brief overview of Art Basel (40th anniversary, 300 galleries, 2500 artists, not much art after 1970s) and an interesting look at the exhibitions by museums (the result of 5 centuries of wealth and “public-mindedness”).

Locals Rule: Alternative Art spaces gear up for Art BaselArtinfo – 6 June – List of activities offered on Basel’s alternative art scene.

Basel, more than a fair cityNew York Times Travel section – undated – 9 enticing images of hotels and restaurants

The Art Market: the biggest fairs around the worldFinancial Times – Georgina Adams – 6 June – A few paragraphs of Basel coverage in this piece covering art fairs. Two distinguishing events at Art Basel: Art Unlimited an exhibition of large scale works in 12000 sq m hall and Il Tempo del Postino which sets time limits on art display. Two more paragraphs speculate about pricing strategies.

Meanwhile in Basel Contemporary Works you can buyWall Street Journal – 5 June – Short prefair description of event and some works

Related links: To see the online catalogue visit

Related posts:

  • Newslink round up – Art HK 09 – May 09
  • Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4 fascinating video interviews – May 09
  • Which 5 Indian artists would you dare to buy now? – May 09
  • Art Dubai 2009 – who sold what to whom? – Mar 09
  • Who are the top artists at art fairs? – Mar 09
  • Newslink round up Arco Madrid 2009 – Feb 09
  • Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for round ups of art news coverage

    Posted in Anish Kapoor, Bharti Kher, Collectors, Fairs, Farhad Moshiri, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Indian, Japanese, Jewel art, Market watch, Sudarshan Shetty, Takashi Murakami, Time | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Which 5 Indian artists would you dare to buy now?

    Posted by artradar on May 26, 2009


    Which artists from the Indian subcontinent are most likely to have a market in 10 years time?  Think about it for a moment and then compare your results with those below:

    Subodh Gupta

    Subodh Gupta


    Atul Dodiya, Fallen Leaves A Stroll

    Atul Dodiya, Fallen Leaves A Stroll



    Top 5 Ranking:

    1. Subodh Gupta

    2. Atul Dodiya

    3. Rashid Rana (Pakistan)

    4. N.S. Harsha

    5. Jitish Kallat

    (Each of the artist names above is linked to their wikipedia entry. Just google the artist name + images for a large selection of images and sources).

    This list has just been published for the first time by ArtTactic using its Survival Rating Methodology. We have enormous respect for the well-researched reports produced by Anders Petterson. Here is more information from their website:

    This Survey launches the Survival Rating methodology for the Indian art market, which was pioneered for the US & European art markets in December 2008. The measurement captures the long-term (10 years) belief whether the artists’ markets will be of High, Medium, Low importance. The Barometer is particularly useful in the current environment, where the market is trying to decipher which artists’ markets will survive the current downturn.

    Artists Confidence Indicators and Survival Ratings included in the report:

    F.N.Souza, M.F.Husain, Ram Kumar, S.H.Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Himmat Shah, Jogen Chowdhury,Arpita Singh, Krishen Khanna, Rameshwar Broota, KG Subramanyan, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Zarina Hashmi, Tyeb Mehta, Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Shibu Natesan, Sudarshan Shetty, Ravinder Reddy, Nataraj Sharma, Surendran Nair, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Jitish Kallat, Thukral & Tagra, Rashid Rana, N.S. Harsha, T.V. Santhosh, Justin Ponmany, Riyas Komu.

    Jitish Kallat

    Jitish Kallat

    To buy, click the Indian Art Market Confidence Survey report May 2009

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    Posted in Acquisitions, Atul Dodiya, Collectors, Indian, Jitish Kallat, Market watch, Pakistani, Rashid Rana, Research, Subodh Gupta | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

    Art Dubai 2009 – who sold what to whom? 15 galleries talk to Art Radar

    Posted by artradar on March 23, 2009


    Which artists were favourites? 15 exhibitor galleries talk to Art Radar in the final day of the fair about sales, attendance and some new collector trends.



    • Middle Eastern collectors showing first signs of interest in East Asian art
    • Pieces in the price range US$20-30000 sell best
    • Sales down compared with last year; booths have mixed results
    • More art fair visitors from institutions
    • Russian collector base changing

    Set out below is a round-up of comments from a selection of galleries participating in the fair.

    Triumph Gallery – Russia

    Ruth Addison: “The fair is going OK rather than fast in terms of sales but it is great in terms of contacts and opportunities. Some of our artists have been invited on residencies. We did not expect too much because of 1) the recession 2) Russian artists are new to the Middle East and 3) this is the first time for Triumph at the fair. Most interest has been shown in AES+F.”

    Aidan Gallery – Russia

    Aidan Salakhova, Director: “Sales have been slower, much as we expected. We have sold 2-3 pieces. We may come back next year but we don’t plan to attend any art fairs in the next 5-6 months. We were the first private gallery in the USSR when we opened 17 yeas ago. In Russia now there is so much change happening to the local collector base, many people are losing money and other new collectors who are making money – perhaps from the government – are entering the market and replacing them. Our aim is to survive the next couple of years and wait for the market to settle”

    Grosvenor Gallery London

    Connor Macklin “The fair has been better than expected for us. The mood is different this year but we have made sales in the range of US$2,000 to US$100,000 per piece”.

    Haunch of Venison – London, Berlin, Zurich, New York

    Adrian Sutton, Senior Sales Director “We have had a successful fair. We have sold one piece and are close with two other pieces and if they come off, sales ( of Indian artist Jitish Kallat and Wim Wenders ) will be over a quarter of a million US dollars in total.”

    October Gallery London

    Elizabeth Lalouschek Artistic Director: “We have found that there has been more interest in larger works. We have sold 10 works with prices varying from US$2,500 to US$90,000 including two El Anatsui works. This fair we have noticed more of an international attendance and more museum directors than in previous years. Perhaps this is because the art fair is being held at the same time as the Sharjah Biennale.”

    El Anatsui at October Gallery

    El Anatsui at October Gallery

    Mario Mauroner Vienna Austria

    “This is our third time here and it has been very quiet. Most interest has been shown in Barthelmy Toguo from Cameroon. We did well at Bologna and Arco so Art Dubai has been disappointing . But we set up in 1972 and have survived recessions dating back to the 1973 oil crisis so I don’t doubt we will survive this too.”

    Galerie Kashya Hildebrand  Switzerland

    Kashya Hildebrand “This is our third trip and we are very happy because members of the Royal Family have bought Asian art for the first time – a Korean artist….a major development.

    There is a also a group of serious Dubai-based Iranian collectors who come to the fair. They take their purchases very seriously, pore over the pieces, ask lots of questions and return each day. Last year this group also began to buy Asian art for the first time which is very exciting.”

    Korean artist Ran Hwang purchased by Royal Family

    Korean artist Ran Hwang purchased by Royal Family

    Galerie Volker Diehl Moscow, Berlin

    Monica F. Eulitz International Director:  “The fair has been very well attended and we have seen buyers from the entire Gulf region this year not just local participants. We have sold a few pieces in the US$20,000-30,000 range.”

     Kalfayan Galleries  Greece

    Roupen Kalfayan: ” Sales have been so-so but it has been wonderful for contacts. Business is slower than last year. This is our second year.. We have had a lot of interest in the Syrian photographer Hrair Sarkissianwho will be exhibiting at the Istanbul Biennale. He started to receive attention from collectors last year and we have placed his work with European collectors at the fair this year. Also Tarek Al Ghoussein.”

    B21 Dubai

    Tessa de Caters: “We have made some sales and the video and digital Iranian artist Leila Pazooki has been receiving attention.

    Pyo Gallery  Korean

    Jeong Yim Gho, Chief curator “It is slow compared with last year. Last year was pretty good but not this year though we have made a few sales in the US$20-30,000 range” Most interest was shown in Park, Sung-Tae.

    Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul

    Kim Jyon director “This is our first visit and sales have not been good. U Fan has sold and there has been a lot of interest in Lee Lee Nam but no sales yet of this artist’s work.”

    Aicon GalleryNew York, Palo Alto, London

    “Sales are reasonable but much slower than last year”

    Bodhi Art Mumbai

    Puneet Shah Asst Gallery Manager: “It has been slow fair for us. We have made no sales. The artist which has attracted most attention is Subodh Gupta.

    Edwynn Houk Gallery New York  US

    Edwynn Houk “This is our first year and we have made a good beginning. We have sold 6 pieces, all photographs by Lalla Essaydi. We have found that Western artists seem to have less resonance with local collectors this year but perhaps interest will develop over time. We would like to come back to Art Dubai”

    Related categories: art fairs, Middle Eastern art, collector news

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    Posted in AES+F, Dubai, El Anatsui, Fairs, Gallerists/dealers, Indian, Jitish Kallat, Korean, Market watch, Middle East, Museum collectors, Overviews, Russian, Subodh Gupta, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    India’s first art museum Devi employs student curators for its second show – review Livemint

    Posted by artradar on January 11, 2009

    Shilpa Gupta Blame

    Shilpa Gupta Blame



    Where in The World to 3 May 2009 Devi Art Foundation

    Renowned Indian art collector Anupam Poddar opened India’s first art museum, the Devi Art Foundation in 2008. ‘Where in the World’ is its second exhibition and contains works from the Lekha and Anupam Poddar collection of contemporary Indian art. According to Devi’s website

    This collection will be the future’s memory of this phase in Indian art. In the absence of other such collections, it may be our only memory of these years.

    ”Where in the World’ was curated by the students from the first class on art curating at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the result is  ‘adolescent’ says Livemint which at the same time lauds collector Anupam Poddar’s ‘noble’ efforts to promote art education.

    while the curating of the show may be weak, it speaks volumes for the foundation that it chose to work with students rather than experienced curators for its second show. It shows that the foundation’s mission is to encourage education just as much as it is to display and promote art.

    Happily the  ‘shaky’ execution of the display in which artworks overlap and descriptions are taped to the wall, is more than compensated for by the quality of the works

    the artwork is without question some of the best contemporary art in the country.

    Poddars before Jaguar in love

    Poddars before Jaguar in love

    In particular Livemint likes

    Atul Dodiya’s mixed media painting B for Bapu, which traps Gandhi behind a rolling grill shutter and Sudarshan Shetty’s giant T-Rex fornicating with a Jaguar (the car) in Love (both of which) have rarely been displayed in the public sphere before.

    And overall the show can be enjoyed for its

      sense of playfulness: Rooms hum with the clattering of typewriters and odd machines blow bubbles. Viewers must walk into Shilpa Gupta’s strange apothecary shop, Blame, where the word “Blame” pulsates off flourescent-lit glass bottles.

    Newer work, such as the installation Untitled by Susanta Mandal that plays with bubbles; and the video installation piece Pan(i) City by Gigi Scaria, are also given space alongside more monumental pieces from the recent past.

    In sum

    While there are still some kinks to work out, the exhibit proves Poddar’s genius. The foundation is a force to be reckoned with: It is not about consumerism or the marketability of Indian art, but the simple pursuit of celebrating contemporary art in India.


    The exhibition includes works by A Balasubramaniam, Atul Bhalla, C. Nannaiah, Sheba Chhachhi, Krishnaraj Chonat, Nikhil Chopra, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Nicola Durvasula, Sheela Gowda, Probir Gupta, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Sonia Jabbar, Bharti Kher, Sonia Khurana, Susanta Mandal, N. Pushpamala, Jeetander Ojha, Jagannath Panda, Srinivasa Prasad, Ashim Purkayastha, Gigi Scaria, Mithu Sen, Tejal Shah, Sudarshan Shetty, T.V.Santhosh, and Navin Thomas.


    More about Indian artists, reports from India, events on now and events coming, survey shows, collectors

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    Posted in Anupam Poddar, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Collectors, Curators, Emerging artists, Gigi Scaria, India, Individual, Mithu Sen, Museum shows, Museums, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Surveys, Susanta Mandel, TV Santosh | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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