Not quite looking his 45 years, Subodh Gupta appeared more a warm and unassuming professor than the towering artist that he really is. His works are counted as priceless pieces of art, with their market value crossing 3.5 crores.
Dressed in white, fully complementing that elegantly greying crop of hair, the colour reflected his calm and peaceful personality. Talking to Nabila Habib of Spicezee.com, Subodh Gupta threw some light on what guides the common man to appreciate or discredit an apparently indecipherable piece of art.
Q: What makes a piece of art popular?
Gupta: It is the quality that appeals to people. If the work of art is worthy and expresses a sentiment sincerely, it becomes valuable.
Q: A piece of art is a creative expression. Why does it then get involved in controversies, as mostly happens with popular art in India?
Gupta: Controversies are the creations of half-baked ideas by people who have failed to understand the art work. Lack of understanding makes people draw wrong conclusions from genuine art, thus creating uproar and controversy.
Q: What do you think causes this lack of understanding?
Gupta: It is the rare number of visits. If you don't familiarise yourself with art, you won't understand it. A certain effort has to be put into understanding any work and any form of expression.
Q: Does India lack such opportunities, like exhibitions and the like?
Gupta: India does not exactly lack opportunities. This (Art Summit) is a fine example.
Q: With the amount of controversies surrounding art, especially painting, in India, would you say India does not have proper institutions to impart knowledge about art, or opportunities to make people get in touch with the contemporary art?
Gupta: No, India does have sufficient opportunities of letting people be aware of art. In recent years the situation has even improved. The situation in certainly optimistic, but you can never be 'knowledgeable enough'.
Q: Why the great disparity between the cost of a work by a great and well known artist and the work of a lesser known artist?
Gupta: Good work sells everywhere. And good work is appreciated. It is not the name that sells and gets appreciated. A good work gets appreciated, and the more one contributes with better works, the better appreciation one receives. But time does play a part in honing one's skills, and artists become great only after proving themselves with their works consistently.