The highlight of French President Emmanuel Macron's India trip was the dinner hosted by renowned artist couple Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher for him on Sunday evening. Macron and his wife Brigitte drove straight to Gupta's Gurgaon studio, after their visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra. Co-hosted by the French ambassador, Alexandre Ziegler, the evening was seminal since a head of state mingled with artists, writers and intellectuals, unlike their usual guest-list of industrialists and bankers. There were curator Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, author Vikram Seth, award-winning photographer Dayanita Singh, the genius Jitish Kallat, collector and impresario Kiran Nadar and Khoj Director and Curator Pooja Sood, filmmaker Alankrita Srivastava, fashion designer Manish Arora and photographer Gauri Gill. Macron invited curator Pooja Sood to showcase her work with India 's tribals.
Over the past 20 years, Gupta has worked hard to build his own reputation and repertoire of works that cut across cultures and speak to all people everywhere. Galleries with an international name and lineage become his dealers and it is not surprising that his installation at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018 will be Arario Gallery.
Gupta's sprawling studio-workshop is in Gurgaon, he is very much the master of his three-storeyed enterprise. Gupta has designed the avant-garde exposed concrete and glass exterior of the building himself. Inside, it gives way to wood-panelled luxury and statement furniture that blends pragmatism and eloquent elegance.
His studio is built and spread over three floors. A medium sized room with the neon light alphabets 'Ma ki Daal' on the wall and another of his vessel installations on the wall tell you that he is an artist who thinks and brings the past forward to the present. Simplicity and elegance exude the language of India's greatest installation artist. The table on this floor has a steel tumbler and 'thali' sunken into its circular surface. On the ground floor is where all the welding and the construction happens.
A small staircase leads on to the larger space and a lift takes you up to the middle floor. Gupta greets you and takes you towards his works that he has just created. On this epic evening, Gupta had laid out a soiree of his many installations for President Macron to savour. From his vessels to light installations to the pots from the Philosopher's Stone series his studio morphed into an avant-garde gallery for one night.
Famous artist Jitish Kallat says: "Emanuel Macron was charismatic, graceful and humble, and the same could be said about Mme. Macron. They had a natural sociability that allowed them to dissolve seamlessly into the gathering, attentively exchanging words with each person they met. During my brief encounter, I conveyed to him how I felt his victory over Marin
Le Pen represented a truly optimistic shift away from the kind of aggressive leadership that is becoming ubiquitous across the globe."
Subodh 's office and painting studio are spacious and spotless. A high backed chair with purple and lighter shades of upholstery is where he sits and thinks-an antique wooden Ganesha in its residual imperfect state makes you think of his love for antiquity and his brilliance at thinking out of the box. The square table at the centre is packed with books.The studio has the air of a mini-museum. A table with some of his potent vessel series, another with paint tubes and brushes-each corner is evocative.
All in all a great moment Indian contemporary art as Gupta gets ready for a retrospective showing of his magnificent monumental steel vessels in Paris that opens on April 13 2018 and runs till August 28, 2018.