“Readymades”: How Ordinary Objects Become Works of Art

Shradha Ramesh explores the art of some of the South Asian artists who continued this tradition initiated by Marcel Duchamp

New York: Ever wondered if stainless steel utensils would be an artwork? Well, for Subodh Gupta (born 1964), they are the medium of self expression. Coming from a modest family of merchants, Subodh’s works are an ode of his surroundings, the surviving lower working class represented by stainless steel tableware. Born in Khagaul, Bihar his repertoire ranges from painting and sculpture to photography, video and installations. According to Nancy Adajania: “Subodh Gupta’s works are littered with references to past and present experiences. Gupta’s art energizes the forms and imageries that we encounter everyday as part of this globalized world and reevaluates the aesthetic parameters of the present. His art questions the very notions of development and progress. He speaks of the local to the global through certain emblems such as stainless steel utensils, bicycle and milk cans, cow dung cakes suitcases, packages and trolley cast in bronze and aluminium.”

Subodh Gupta, Untitled

Subodh Gupta, Untitled. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=8284

Yet another artist who has used the indigenous motif to communicate the subversive emotion is Bharti Kher (born 1969). Bharti Kher’s art reflects on several sets of dualities such as: male-female, human-nature, modern- traditional and local-foreign. She uses ready-made bindi, an ensemble of Indian marriage and feminine beauty, to narrate eerie and repulsive paradoxes of modern life.

Bharti Kher, Indra's Net (6)

Bharti Kher, Indra’s Net (6). Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=7257

“Bharti uses bindi as a means of transforming objects and surfaces. Her Bindi is used to cover the resin cast animals or other sculpture and even to decorate the large panels… often plays with everyday scenes and objects where she deals with the mundane.”

Jitish Kallat (Born 1974) says about his art: “My art is more like a researcher’s project who uses quotes rather than an essay, with each painting necessitating a bibliography,.. any visual material relevant to me.” Kallat’s works represent the fraught of urban discontent and turbulence especially through his fiber glass installation “Death of Distance” (2006). According to Deepak Ananth, French art historian and critic, “Kallat’s vision of his native city…is street-wise, slangy, hectic and rapid, impatient to register the myriad contradictory signals that come within the precincts of its scan. “

You can read more about “Readymades” here.

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