Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta

After updating our Facebook and Twitter with a picture of the new sculptures located at Katara, between saffron restaurant and amphitheater, people start asking what those 3 sculptures mean? So we created this blog post to explain the story behind them.

Artist: Subodh Gupta
Born: 1964 in Khagaul, Bihar, India
Lives and works: in New Dehli, India

About Gandhi’s Three Monkeys

Gandhi’s three monkeys, 2007—2008 Bronze, old utensils, steel Gas mask head: 184 x 140 x 256 cm / 72 1/2 x 55 1/8 x 100 3/4 in Balaclava head: 200 x 131 x 155 cm / 78 3/4 x 51 5/8 x 61 in Helmet head: 175 x 125 x 150 cm / 68 7/8 x 49 1/4 x 59 in.

They make reference to India’s famous hero of peace, Mahatma Ghandi, portrayed as three heads in military headgear. Using worn brass domestic utensils, the forms of a soldier’s helmet, a terrorist’s hood and a gas mask reinforce Gupta’s dialectics of war and peace, public and private, global and local, themes that run throughout his work. The historical meaning of Mahatma Ghandi’s three monkeys is “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil. The gear worn by the three men in the sculptures represent this meaning.

About Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta’s practice shifts between different mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance. Throughout his work, he uses objects that are recognizable icons of Indian life such as domestic kitchenware, such as stacked stainless steel lunch boxes and symbols of the street such as bicycles, scooters and taxis. By relocating them from their original context and placing them in museums and galleries, he elevates their status from common object to valued artwork.

Born in a small town in the northern province of Bihar, one of the poorest regions of India Gupta completed a painting degree in Patna before moving to New Delhi. His experience of the stark contrasts between rural and urban experiences and cultural dislocation are themes that permeate his artistic practice.

Other works by Gupta explore India’s increasingly globalised vision of travel and the economic migration of its workforce. Bulging packages – ghathris – are cast in bronze and presented on a rotating airport baggage carousel, as in his large-scale installation “Across Seven Seas”, 2004 or precariously balanced on the roof of a sinking Ambassador taxi as in “Everything Is Inside”, 2004. Such bundles contain the prized consumer goods brought back to India by migrant workers traveling from the Gulf States and represent their pride in bringing back wealth for their families.

 Reference: Qatar Museums Authority

3 thoughts on “Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta

  1. Really great job. It’s a strong message from the artist to us, infact and sure we all need to think and find out a positive solution to make the world safe and peaceful. It’s our most social and combine responsibility.

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