Caked with cow dung and mud, he sat in shavasana in an open field where objects collected from villagers, including a hookah and a plough, had been sunk in cow dung paste. For Subodh Gupta the performative piece invoked childhood memories of his life in rural Bihar. The 1999 enactment titled Pure was one of his famed works.
Performed at Khoj two years after the artist founded the organisation with Anita Dube, Pooja Sood and Manisha Parekh, this was followed by several more by Gupta at the venue. After his most recent engagement with the organisation in 2012, The Spirit Eaters, a comment on the community of Kanthababas, sought by bereaved families to give peace to the soul of the deceased, now the acclaimed artist is pitching in with funds for the space. He is among 10 leading artists who have donated artwork that will be up as part of Christie’s India auction in December. The proceeds will be forwarded to Khoj. The auction will also have works by veterans such as Tyeb Mehta, Jehangir Sabavala and Bhupen Khakhar.
“Khoj has changed the way I think… (It) has given a platform not only to artists, but also to art lovers, it has given something to all of Delhi. Look at how many young artists come from Khoj, and how many international artists gain from their experience here,” says Gupta.
His installation of stainless steel utensils, Guldasta, is estimated at Rs 20 to 30 lakh. The leading work among the select 10 is an Atul Dodiya 54 x 78 inch canvas estimated between Rs 30 and Rs 50 lakh. The 2011 work titled A Crow has the artist in conversation with Mahatma Gandhi. “Khoj is an ideal platform for new and experimental art. The dialogue which Khoj has initiated through various workshops has given new directions to a younger generation of artists,” says the Mumbai-based artist.
While Indian-origin British artist Anish Kapoor has contributed with a minimalist acrylic In Mind (estimate Rs 25 to 35 lakh), after 20 years Dayanita Singh has photographed a commissioned family portrait.
There are some familiar works too — Shilpa Gupta’s neon WheredoIendandyoubegin that lit up the Edinburgh sky in August and Mithu Sen’s mixed media watercolour on Japanese Kozo paper made for Louis Vuitton in 2011. “I have benefited from Khoj over the last 12 years and want it to live forever,” says Sen.
The works will be exhibited from November 28 to 30 at Taj Mahal Hotel, ManSingh Road. The auction will take place on December 11 at Hotel Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai
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