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Artist Profile1
Ved Gupta’s vibrant vocabulary
Ved Gupta is a young and upcoming artist with a difference and a promise, not afraid to raise his voice on behalf of the suppressed. His creations draw from his forceful perception of the prevailing injustices and inequalities of the rigid class structured society of present day India. Even as the country soaks in the success of economic liberalization and globalization, he underlines the abuse of the basic values on which the modern India was supposedly constructed.

He looks at life from the perspective of the dispossessed, projecting them as heroic, albeit tragic beings. The pledge of evenly shared prosperity, made at the birth of the modern period, still remains elusive as everyone hankers after a piece of the pie, and covets what others have as well. Pointing to the bitter reality, his creations revolve around the themes of corruption, gluttony and oppression

The artist, born in 1975 in Narkatiagunj, Bihar, harbored a dream of becoming an engineer, but he failed to fulfill it. He was swayed by a kind of cheekiness, something that ‘didn’t really go down well with his tutors’, as he put it. But then he had found his mode of expression. Mapping out his artistic journey, he has mentioned in an interview: “I have always aspired to make a political statement and give back to the society with whatever I did. The language of art provided me with a way of expressing that and connecting with the society.”

Leaving his hometown, he traveled to New Delhi and then Pilani, Rajasthan where he spent time with a master sculptor. His fascinating journey, familiarizing him with various shades of human emotions like the feeling of loneliness and desperation attached with the phenomenon of migration reflects in the vibrant vocabulary of his paintings and sculptures.

Ved Gupta did his post-graduation in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Vadodara, where he got a gold medal. He has won numerous other honors including the H.K. Kejriwal award and the Kashi Award for Visual Art (2007). His work has been featured at many exhibitions like 'Ltd. Edn', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi (2007-08); 'Urgent:10 ml of Contemporary Needed' by FICA at Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi (2008); 'Winner’s Show', Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi (2007); and 'Peep-Show', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (2006). He was featured among the five Indian artists to showcase their works under the ‘Best of Discovery’ section at the Shanghai Contemporary show.

Another important step in the promising career of the sensitive artist was his debut solo show at Gallery Threshold expectedly around the theme of exploitation and mental turmoil. It looked into the seamier aspects of the 21st century’s socio-political relations. Analyzing his work, a catalogue essay by Deeksha Nath elaborated: “Ved Gupta’s sculptures and paintings mock existing social and economic hierarchies in India. Several decisive turns in his life have influenced his concepts and methodology, precisely articulated in this first solo exhibition. His ambition – to create a dialogue that begins with his work – is grand but the context is localized, grounded in his experiences and observations.”

The theme found a somewhat more vivid and direct expression in ‘Catharsis’, a series of bronze sculptures, comprising bronze plates. The male faces etched on them expressed anguish and alienation writ large on them. The etchings deliberately smudged by selective polishing of the uneven and oft-rough surface were further obscured by the bronze scaffolding. They reminded of the heavy urban construction and the workers toiling there. The artist portrayed them as symbols of exploitation and marginalization.

It is only to be expected that there would be no room for humor or relief in Ved Gupta’s apparently amusing realm of painted fibre-glass sculptures. The artist has studied our history thoroughly. He explains, “It’s vital to do so to understand art. What struck me most was the fact that the protagonist was invariably depicted as larger than life. So those in power are depicted as dwarfed caricatures.”

Analyzing his work from a broader perspective, art writer Kishore Singh of The Business Standard questions whether this creative identity, no matter how distinct, has longevity. The columnist elaborates: “The caricature is hardly novel - Chintan Upadhyay can claim its painted apogee, and Alex Kersey has a Mohawk-like take on it - but Ved Gupta isn’t worried. As our cities grow organically, it remains to be seen how he will react: as part of the new landscape, or in anti-thesis opposition to it.” It’s worth watching!