Couples Fuel India's Vibrant Art Scene

By Gayatri Rangachari Shah | New York Times

A few months ago, Wallpaper magazine published a limited-edition cover of the powerhouse artists Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher posing in traditional Indian wear. The photo was, in Ms. Kher’s words, “so clichéd, I titled it, ‘In another life.”’ The cover was true to form for the husband and wife, who both use traditional references expressly to create works of art that turn conventions upside down. This is where the similarities between the two artists end — the works themselves are wildly different. But they say the fact that they share the same profession fuels their creativity.


Mr. Gupta and Ms. Kher are not the only couple to figure prominently in India’s robust contemporary art scene. In fact, a triumvirate of married couples are among the country’s top artists, including Atul and Anju Dodiya and Jitish and Reena Kallat. Four of them — Mr. Dodiya, Mr. Kallat, Ms. Kher and Mr. Gupta — are consistently ranked in the top 10 of India’s contemporary artists by ArtTactic, an art specialist research firm.

Though they are married, each of these artists maintains an independent studio, exhibiting separately. All six use their work to mark the evolution of Indian society. They are represented by some of the top art galleries and are included in institutional and private art collections at home and abroad. They were all featured in recent overseas exhibitions like the traveling show “Indian Highway,” now in Rome; “Maximum India” at the Kennedy Center in Washington last spring; and “The Empire Strikes Back” at the Saatchi Gallery in London last year.

13 October 2011