- Bharti Kher
- Signed, dated and inscribed 'Bharti Kher/ 2006/ "MISSING" ' on reverse
Bindis on composite aluminium panel
Over the past few years Bharti Kher has appropriated the bindi in all its various shapes, colours and forms to create complex works that are visually mesmerizing, technically time consuming and conceptually multilayered. The term bindi is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for a dot or a point, sometimes considered the creative seed or womb of the universe. In India it is traditionally a mark of pigment applied to the forehead associated with the Hindu symbol of the third eye. When worn by women in the customary colour of red, it is a symbol of marriage yet in recent times it has become a decorative item, worn by unmarried girls and women of any religion transformed into a fashion accessory. The morphing of the traditional significance of the bindi from a symbol full of latent religious meaning to a mass produced object that has become an increasingly global commodity, is relevant to Kher's work which appears to be informed by her experiences of having lived and worked in both the UK and India.
'In her work, Bharti Kher collects a wide range of images and artifacts culled from her own daily life and surroundings. Her over-arching subject can be said to be identity, both that of individuals and that of communities. Kher is able to focus on the mundanities with which identities are constructed and expressed, such as the hard-won or inherited symbols we have to tell the world who we imagine ourselves to be. This has led Kher to address the issues of class, consumer society and feminism, as well as the relationships between tradition and contemporaneity. Many of her works possess a dry wit or even a sarcastic bite which we may associate more with Western modes of contemporary art than those to be found within India today. But at the heart of her works is a deep understanding of Indian culture as it has been not only witnessed but lived from both inside and out.' (Peter Nagy as quoted by www.cimaartindia.com )
Kher uses the ready-made bindi as a central motif of her practice. The tiny decoration is used as a means of transforming objects and surfaces through a contemplative process of slow application that becomes almost ritualistic in its method of application. She is known for her menagerie of resin-cast animals, which are covered with the bindi, but as with the current lot she also uses bindis to make large, wall-based panels that appear to pay homage both to the neo tantric art of India and the Abstract Expressionist art of the West. In contrast to her sculptures, the panels reveal the visual pleasure the bindi offers as an optical device.
'Kher's Bindi works resemble satellite photographs; in looking at them it is as though we were looking down at the intercourse of oceans and continents, tracing the wanderings of peoples and rivers, the slippage of seasons and the gradation of monsoon winds. The bindis function like demographic clusters, sites of maximum ore...Kher transforms the gestures of what could have been a craft practice into richly allusive images.' (Ranjit Hoskote, The Pursuit of Extreme Propositions - Recent works by Bharti Kher, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)
For Kher, art is "not simply depicting reality but transforming objects," creating in the process new ways of understanding the world around us.