Observations: Indian art superstar Subodh Gupta thinks locally, appeals globally

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The Independent Culture

Subodh Gupta has not been dubbed the "Damien Hirst of Delhi" for nothing. The Bihar-born artist, who started as a painter in the 1980s before branching into installation and video work, is widely acknowledged as India's first contemporary art superstar. His monumental, wham-bam sculptures, created from mundane items such as tiffin food pots, milk pails and cow-dung patties, not only reflect India's rural roots but herald its rapid metamorphosis into an economic powerhouse.

"I am the idol thief. I steal from the kitchen," says Gupta, adding that as a child, he often took food to his father, a railway worker, in a tiffin. The pots and pans of Gupta's installations may well act as flashpoints for the sub-continent's transformation but appeal also to international art audiences. The artist's head-turning Pop aesthetic has caught the eye of leading contemporary art collectors worldwide, including the French billionaire François Pinault, and Charles Saatchi, who plans a show of contemporary Indian art at his west London gallery early next year.

Gupta devotees are now looking to London, as an exhibition of new works by the artist open at Hauser & Wirth off Piccadilly next week. A 7ft-wide stainless-steel "thali" plate, a pair of 9ft spoons cradled together and a reworking in bronze of Marcel Duchamp's moustachioed Mona Lisa are among the striking pieces set to go on show. "The language of art is the same all over the world. It allows me to be anywhere," says the artist, explaining that even if a piece is hard to fathom, it should still stop spectators in their tracks.

For those who find Gupta's art overblown, subtler touches will include a series of delicately painted mangoes crafted from bronze. And, in another canny move, the artist plans to show a set of cast Jeff Koons "Puppy" gift boxes – a cheeky salute to another art-market favourite, worthy of Mr Hirst himself.

'Common Man' is at Hauser & Wirth, London W1 (www.hauserwirth.com) to 31 Oct

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