Exhibition curation, and editor and contributing author for accompanying publication, Arnolfini, 2022.
The fragility and hybridity of life are drawn together in the alchemical art of Bharti Kher, an artist whose career has spanned two continents (born in England in 1969 and living in New Delhi, India, since 1993), and multiple forms of art.
Her practice is intuitive, drawing upon the senses – ‘I hear it, taste it, eat it, write it, draw it’ – and like an ancient Harrapan myth, in which breath is blown into the body of a clay doll, Kher gently breathes life into Arnolfini’s galleries.
This notion of the body runs as a thread throughout Kher’s work, which weaves between the realms of magic, myth, and science. Within this she invites us to consider our relationship to found objects, materials, language, people, and place. Drawing upon the transformative power of materials, her work also suggests new ways to both look at an object and the place from which we are looking.
Beginning with the Body Incantatory drawings, The Body is a Place focuses upon the quieter corners of Kher’s work, revealing the importance of drawing to her wider practice. Marks and gestures
are also found within sculptures, installation, bindi paintings, and the site-specific work Virus XIII.
Through these works, Kher takes us on a cyclical journey, activating the physical spaces that lie between these two- and three-dimensional forms.
Encountering these varied forms can at first feel akin to ‘speaking a language that is not our own’. Yet it is the richness and complexity of Kher’s underlying visual and sensory language that draws her work together. Creating her own ‘hand-brain-body-art language’, it is through this that she shares with us her understanding of the world.
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Image: Dark Matter II, bindis on painted board, 2014. Photo. Clare Dorn. © Bharti Kher. Courtesy the artist and Perrotin.