- Bharti Kher
signed and dated 2007 on the backing board
- bindis on polished steel
Elementa Gallery, Dubai
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Bharti Kher's mesmerizing appropriation of the bindi as an art-object in the present composition epitomises the aesthetic alchemy and cultural complexities at play within her multifaceted oeuvre. Set upon a brilliant, polished golden steel background, thousands of tiny interlocking bindis combine to form a complex and technically accomplished mosaic of expanding concentric circles - one that pays homage to the neo tantric art of India as well as to the Abstract Expressionist art of the West. Its kaleidoscopic form resonates a joyful celebration of India's colourful cultural history and its profound sense of tradition, whilst at the same time offering a more far-reaching commentary upon the rapid socio-political transformations taking place in Indian society, as the country's customary values are usurped a more contemporary lifestyle and the trappings of global consumerism.
The term bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu which literally translates as dot or point. In India it is traditionally a mark of pigment applied to the forehead and has associations ranging from the Hindu third eye to the creative seed or womb of the universe. When worn by women in the customary colour of red, it is a symbol of marriage. In recent times it has become a decorative fashion accessory worn by unmarried girls and women of any religion and has consequently evolved into a range of colours, shapes and sizes. 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 emblematic of the concerns that one finds in Kher's work.
Central to this investigation is Kher's own experience; specifically the acute feeling of displacement she has felt throughout her life having been born to Indian parents in London, educated for much of her formative childhood in Newcastle, before finally moving to live and work as an artist in Delhi in the early 1990s. "In her work, Bharti Kher collects a wide range of images and artefacts 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.... But at the heart of her works is a deep understanding of Indian culture as it has been not only witnessed but lived both from inside and out." (Peter Nagy as quoted on www.cimaartindia.com)