Bharti Kher’s New Monumental Exhibition

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart invites you to visit Misdemeanours, Bharti Kher’s largest solo exhibition in Asia

London: Misdemeanours is coming soon at the Rockbound Art Museum in Shanghai. Starting on January 11 the exhibition boasts to be the largest solo exhibition in Asia of the celebrated Indian artist Bharti Kher.

Self Portrait, Bharti Kher

Self Portrait, Bharti Kher. Image Credit:

The show, which occupies all six floors of the museum, features a selection of works created in the last 15 years by the artist as well as some site specific installations.

Kher uses different forms of art to express herself such as painting, photography and sculpture yet most of her works have in common monumental dimensions. The artist in this exhibition discusses the relationship between human beings and animals, hybridity, ethics, gender, politics, globalization and cosmopolitanism. The poetics of the body reveals Kher’s interests in entropy, mutation, and transformation, as witnessed by humans and animals alike.

The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own, Bharti Kher

The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own, Bharti Kher. Image Credit:

“The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations that serve as conceptual and physical “skins” that encase the museum’s monumental façade and conjoin two exhibition spaces on consecutive floors. These architectural interventions serve as mirrors to Kher’s own use of the bindi to serve as a carrier of the other, and an object that revels in both in its ability to decorate and enliven attention, as well as to subsume and obscure the gaze. ”

Kher has stated, “If I could remake my artistic career, I think I would be a minimalist painter. All the art that I love comes from the tradition of reduction—but I can’t because I’m super maximum!”

Misdemeanours, Bharti Kher

Misdemeanours, Bharti Kher. Image Credit:

Misdemeanours has been curated by Sandhini Poddar, Mumbai-based art historian and adjunct curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the works on display include loans from leading private and public institutions as well as new commissions.

The exhibition will be on until March 20 and it will be accompanied by events and a catalogue. For more information click here.



Anomalies: Bharti Kher’s first solo show in Korea

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on Bharti Kher’s solo exhibition in Seoul

New York: Artist Bharti Kher expands her audience to South Korea for the very first time, through her solo show at the Kukje gallery in Seoul. On view until October, the exhibition showcases selected works of art, all speaking of “anomalies”, the title of the show, exploring an extensive overview of Kher’s artistic practice in the last decade.

Experiencing Bharti Kher’s work is like deciphering a labyrinth of complexities, emotions and cultural displacement. Born and raised in Surrey, London, Kher has established her own aesthetic niche in the international art market in the last two decades. The narrative element of her work, often mythological, overrides the visual aspect, consuming audiences into her oeuvre.

“In terms of the title ‘Anomalies’, I’d use it for every exhibition if I could. I feel that in Asia, people really understand myths, and “Anomalies” is about how things are not always as they appear, how the function and cause are not always the same, and how intentions are not always what you see in the end. I name some of my work after myths, and people think they’re true, but I’ve made it up”.

The exhibition showcases Kher’s multi faceted works, from found objects to traditional South Asian motifs. One of her prominent works is the bindi works, representing the mark that is applied by Indian women on their forehead.  Kher alludes to the concept of a bindi as unorthodox and creates an almost mesmerizing visual reflecting its intrinsic beauty. These works are tedious and labor intensive in production, as each bindi is applied meticulously, creating spectacular patterns of vivid color, posing a challenge to the audience perspective on painting.

“The idea is that they have this object that they can instill faith in,” says Bharti

The exhibition also showcases her well-known series of female hybrid sculptures; half human, half animal figures inverting the natural hierarchy. Through these sculptures, Kher envisions the concept of the “urban goddess” revealing attributes of instability and unease of the feminine. Through her work, she also challenges feminist notions of sexuality, love, power, body and the grotesque.

Bharti Kher, is one of India’s prominent contemporary artists. She studied painting at Newcastle Polytechnic and currently lives and works in New Delhi, India.

The exhibition will be on until October 5, for more information click here.



Bharti Kher on India’s Absence at the Venice Biennale

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart shares Bharti Kher’s letter on the absence of India at the Venice Biennale

To Whom It May Concern (if at all)
As I sit these mornings and look at my mailbox something about where I’m from and at bothers me as the news from Venice Biennale filters in:  pavilions from Angola (population 19.6 million, civil wars 1975 to 2002) Azerbaijan (9.173 million) Bangladesh, Tuvalu (population 9,847)  …yes smaller than Lajpat Nagar! Iraq, Kuwait, Maldives, Montenegro, special participations from Palestine, Tibet…. etc. We didn’t bother to make it happen. Again. It’s a catalyst perhaps to move, a truth of other happenings that remain unresolved. Nagging issues that plague us in India.

A country with no art is like a child with no parents. The child grows up unable to love without envy and mistrust. Deprived of affection warmth and care, most likely develops poor and problematic social skills. The orphan will rarely laugh at itself when self depreciation is a fundamental tool of critique and wont know a mother who has stories to share and songs to pass on; an accumulation of associations that are sweet even sublime just pass by. Skin that can be caressed and the smells of those things primal and intrinsic have not been etched or marked on the body. Instead, memories and lessons are hard and practical: survival, power, money, and make friends with those you need.

The fear of the future and possible failures are veiled in arrogance and bravado. Who cares anyway, no one is looking at me, so why bother with how I look, forget outwardly appearances or more poignant perhaps: why bother with my soul, when no one has nourished it? Self-respect or pride isn’t the problem; there is that in abundance, to oblivion. Its indifference and apathy, that runs like a wild rabid dog, frothing and foaming. Insipid bile that rises from an empty stomach, electric envy of green; staining blood red, Judas yellow, Kali’s black teeth, and the whiteness of that albino whale, crashing-crushing like the battle inside the belly of that dog.When we sent our specialists(i heard 35 or so) from the Indian government last year to witness our first participation in 116 years, with their junkets and ice-cream coupons, didn’t they see that Venice
was about the art and sharing of ideas and not fake handbags or
collecting masks? Maybe they forgot, maybe they were busy eating ice cream on a hand carved wooden gondolas. What was I doing?  What can I do now? If we cant play with the stuff of dreams anymore, where will be the invention? If we can’t bear witness, how will there be a memory of the things that should never be forgotten.You can say, “who cares” … nationalist agendas are not relevant anymore. I agree. Art is not relevant because it cannot change the world. I agree. But we can’t escape apathy and indifference and I’m not talking about politics, I’m talking about love.

Boston 28th may 2013

A glimpse into Bharti Kher’s surreal world

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart attends a solo exhibition and talk by Bharti Kher in London

Bharti Kher & Shaheen Merali in conversation at the Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London

Bharti Kher & Shaheen Merali in conversation at the Parasol Unit Foundation, London

London: The Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art is hosting a solo exhibition of Bharti Kher, on view till 11 November, 2012. This is the first time the artist is exhibiting in a public art institution in London.

The show comprises selected works from Kher’s recent past, focusing mainly on her three-dimensional creations.

Bharti Kher, known best for her ‘bindi’ artworks, like the one featured in our recent Autumn Art Auction, transforms and re-adapts common objects into something surreal yet deeply meaningful in her art. Her works are very personal, reflecting her concerns about society and, on a smaller scale, about herself as well. Through these works, the artist manages to engage a global audience by communicating shared issues and thoughts.

Last week, the artist was at the Parasol Unit for a public conversation about her works with Shaheen Merali.

The Skin speaks a language not its own, Bharti Kher, 2006

The Skin speaks a language not its own, Bharti Kher, 2006. Bindis on fiberglass, Photography: Bartholomew/Netphotograph. © Bharti Kher. Image credit:

The conversation started with a question about the significance of the bindis in her art. The artist explained that bindis for her represented a conceptual underpinning of what they actually were. Bindis are markers of the day and life of people. They are a second skin, they cover and transform the objects and they make the artifacts hers. They also bring a sense of motion, and in some cases, positivity to the entity they are covering.  For example, her work, The skin speaks a language not its own,represents an elephant on the floor in the process of dying. However, the elephant seems to be lifted through the bindis. In fact, Kher added that her art is full of contradictions as in this work where death is opposed to lightness and movement.

Then the conversation shifted to Kher’s work, The deaf room. This work represents the wall of a house made of glass bricks which was created to raise the memory and become a witness of the Gujarat riots of 2002. The work was inspired by an iconic image of a burnt house where a pile of bangles was visible too. The idea of the glass bricks made from crushed red glass bangles was developed from this memory of the artist. Talking about The deaf room, Kher explained how important the process of making works was, apart from the final result. In fact, the process of how this specific work was made is what informs us about the tragic events that inspired it. Without knowing these details we would miss a great deal of its meaning. Although the leading idea behind this work is of destruction and loss, the bricks offer a positive reading as well, seeming to hold an almost magic power. The bangles they are made of possess innate positive characteristics because of their joyful sound resembling a dance.

The deaf room, Bharti Kher, 2001-2012

The deaf room, Bharti Kher, 2001-2012,Glass bricks, clay. From: Bharti Kher catalogue, Parasol Unit, London, 2012. p. 143

Towards the end of the talk, Merali asked the artist what some of the unsolved questions that she wanted to express through her practice were. Avoiding revealing too much, Kher mentioned that the idea of the body and self still prompts her creativity and imagination, but in her next project she wants to bring it to the next level, but it is still a work in progress.

Contradiction is definitely a striking element in Kher’s practice, and also the dichotomy between allegory and reality. But no matter how surreal her works are they always manage to transmit Kher’s feelings, especially because she believes her works are reconciliatory. The concept that we worry about so many things in our every-day lives but ultimately we are all just small dots is well expressed in her art.

I would really recommend this exhibition, as it is inclusive of a good selection of Kher’s work which describes her practice well. Her strong personality which emerged in the interview and lies in her works too is the result of the thoughts and actions of a contemporary woman brought up in London but who decided to go back to her homeland to find her roots and shape her identity.

Her works communicate a sense of multiplicity and underline that nothing is certain and definite and that life is fast moving but important events must be framed in time.

On October 9, Kher will be signing her catalogue at the Parasol Unit Foundation in London. More information about the exhibition and this event can be found here.

Bharti Kher’s work at SCADMOA – “Reveal the secrets that you seek”

Sabah Mathur of Saffronart on the new Bharti Kher exhibition at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Georgia (23 June – 4 November 2012)

Bharti Kher exhibition at Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art

Georgia: A selection of Bharti Kher’s new works is currently on view at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, an institution designed expressly to enrich the educational milieu of SCAD students and professors, as well as to attract visitors from around the world to Savannah. Along with a number of other interesting exhibitions featuring contemporary artists from countries such as Guatemala and Chile, the museum is showcasing Kher’s work in an incredible solo exhibition entitled ‘Reveal the secrets that you seek’.

Detail of Bharti Kher, Reveal the secrets that you seek, 2011 displayed at an exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, New York earlier this year
Image credit:

This show includes pieces from Kher’s new body of work centring on themes of male and female energies in flux, transformation, alternative realities, nature and man. The title work, Reveal the secrets that you seek, consists of twenty-seven shattered, salvaged mirrors patterned with bindis, that envelope visitors in their own reflections which, in turn, become a part of Kher’s art.

A similar idea also animated her 2010 series Indra’s net mirror, one of which was featured in our Summer Art Auction last month. However, unlike the customary dense, swirling patterns of the tiny dots, the bindis in the new works are fashioned for the first time into strict, structured grids of lines that imply codes of concealed information. By bringing to attention everyday acts, such as looking at oneself in a mirror, and then re-assessing their self-understanding, Kher’s work repositions the viewer’s relationship with the object.

Bharti Kher, A line through space and time, 2011
Image credit:

Another large-scale installation, A line through space and time, consists of a 17-foot-long staircase splashed with red paint and covered with black sperm shaped bindis. Together, these works ask us to consider our relationships with life’s banal activities and objects, and to review our ideas of the self as transitory and ever-changing.

Read more about this exhibition on the museum website.

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