Manav Gupta (b. 1967), one of India’s foremost contemporary artists, is known for avant-garde, installations and sculptures, paintings, large murals and pioneering public art projects.
He has conceptualized and executed back-to-back public art over the recent years with unique interdisciplinary and outreach programs involving all stake holders of society. Beginning with ‘Tree of Life’, a five-floor high, indoor staircase mural (2010) where he involved thousands of non-artists to paint on his mural, his shrinking river installation on the Museum floor, hosted by National Museum Pretoria, South Africa, opened in January 2013. With his giant Ganga Waterfront at IHC New Delhi (2015), he brought a river inside the city as a call to environmental action. It saw a hundred thousand footfalls, following which he embarked on the preliminary leg of his ‘Ganga to Mississippi Art Project’ in the United States in late 2015 – early 2016, where he was invited to deliver the President’s Lecture at MCAD Minneapolis and a Talk at Forecast Public Art. In 2017, he redefined a premium Mall space into a public art project as his ‘Excavated Museum in a Mall’ for River Yamuna, His ‘Rain’ premiered at the Sculpture Garden he conceptualized and created at his Collector’s House at Amrita Shergill Marg, later that year, from 2017 -2018. He went on to then punctuate 27 acres of IGNCA lawns in Lutyens’s Delhi with another magnum opus ‘arth – art for earth’, which had six of his large installations including the immersive ‘Rain, Rainforest and the Beehive Garden’ hosted by Ministry of Culture Govt of India in 2018. In 2019, he conceptualized and created a first of its kind public art museum project ‘Water the New Gold’ as a ‘city in a city’ at Rasulgarh in Bhubaneswar, for sustainable development. 2020 saw him create an instant flash installation ‘A river connects us all’ at Cyber Hub in Gurugram. Most of his public art was extended by public demand, and fetched him critical acclaim, with many institutions, publications and Government bodies hailing him on record as ‘maverick genius’ ‘visionary’ and ‘one of India’s most erudite and versatile contemporary artists. Times of India and other publications summed up well in 2019 “To his credit, Manav has six most iconic and revolutionary art projects in India this decade’.
Sculpture Magazine underlines the essence of the artist’s installations, sculptures and public art – ‘Gupta’s art affirms the age-old sanctity of earth and clay, assembling everyday objects made by potters from across India to create huge installations that convey hope, passion, and the journey and transience of life. Using just a few types of functional items—the ‘diya’ lamp, the ‘kullad’ teacup and the ‘chilam’ smoking pipe—he creates contemporary yet timeless and powerful stories. Massed in their hundreds and thousands, these humble items gain new significance, as tradition reimagined makes an eloquent case for sustainable practices that respect the earth’s resources while transforming the familiar into something completely unconventional, unexpected, and magical.’
Some of his awards and felicitations include the Senior Fellowship by Govt. of India awarded to Outstanding persons in the field of Culture, Honorary Doctorate for Innovation in art for sustainability by the Mesopotamian Academy, Istanbul, Exceptional Leader of Excellence by WEF and the first ‘Sanatan Puraskar’ for Art in India awarded by the French ambassador.He has been invited to speak at many eminent forums conferences and institutions
In the earlier decade, he was invited by former President of India, Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, as first Artist-in-Residence at Rashtrapati Bhawan (President of India’s House) in 2003 and was commissioned by Dr.Kalam for a book of poems and paintings together, that was published by Penguin in 2005. He was the youngest to be nominated as the Expert Committee Member for National Republic Day Parade Celebrations. He started ‘arth – the art for earth movement in India as early as in 1997, to be recognized by CNN for commissioning him for his ‘Copenhagen Wall of Hope’ and the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India commissioning him for one of his early public art projects – to create one-minute films on environment in 2005 as public service messages. Building bridges beyond borders for world peace, harmony and sustainable living, he has created the ‘Bhutan India Friendship Mural’ commissioned by Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India, along with many art projects for other ministries and private institutions.
His works have been sold by Christie’s, Bonham’s, Philip de Pury with his works in several private, institutional, and public collections. He has been conceptualizing and creating art for climate action and sustainable living for more than two and half decades.