Subodh Gupta, Et tu, Duchamp? (2009/10). All images via Hauser & Wirth
Taking root this spring in Piccadilly’s Southwood Gardens is Subodh Gupta’s tributary appropriation Et tu, Duchamp?, a larger than life black-bronze sculpture of the artist’s reinterpretation of the Mona Lisa. Gupta is well known for reworking common aesthetic tropes, in the past having made sculptures of steel utensils and visually referenced the stars of the Western contemporary art market (particularly Damien Hirst). In this instance, Gupta plays with early Modernist art history by injecting Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. with a monumental three-dimensionality.
More text and images after the jump…
Debuting originally in 2009, Et tu, Duchamp? was made for Hauser & Wirth’s Common Man solo exhibition held at the Piccadilly and Old Bond Street galleries. This 2011 showcase is a collaboration between Hauser & Wirth and the neighboring St. James’s Church, to whom the exhibition gardens belong. This pious locale adds another layer of significance to the sculpture, calling to mind the near-religious devotion collectors and enthusiasts pay to the often capricious turns in contemporary art. What’s more, there is a certain irony to the work and its setting, considering that the bronze figure’s draped veil and poised demeanor can evoke images of the Virgin Mary when viewed from afar. This misconception is only to be unraveled when the sculpture is approached up-close, and one instead discovers the vandalized visage of one of art history’s most revered female figures.
Subodh Gupta has constructed a reputation for looking at the trajectory of art history with a viewpoint that uniquely represents his Eastern roots while acknowledging (or perhaps exploiting) the pervasive influence of Western art historical traditions and its related capitalist principles. The artist’s work is seen as addressing contemporary issues of globalism and transnational migration in a way that works with both a local aesthetic of the Indian subcontinent and directed towards a global appetite.