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Bharti Kher, Matter

Bharti Kher, Matter (2012), installation view [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jul 9-Oct 10] Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery

Bharti Kher: Matter

Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver BC – Jul 9-Oct 10, 2016

Bharti Kher, Lady with an ermine

Bharti Kher, Lady with an ermine (2012), resin, granite, wood, fur, leather, ceramic [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jul 9-Oct 10] Courtesy of the Artist © Bharti Kher

In her first major North American survey, the New Dehli-based Kher presents over two decades of paintings, sculptures, installations and photographs. Common to these works is an interest in human relationships, the animal world, hybridity, spirituality and femininity, but also how these categories are enacted through narrative and repetition. Although stylistic innovations like the readymade, abstraction and minimalism feature strongly in this exhibition, the bindi is the artist’s recurrent motif.

From the Sanskrit word bindu, meaning “point, drop, dot or small particle,” the bindi is a red dot commonly worn by Hindu, Jain and Buddhist women on the centre of the forehead. For followers of these faiths, the dot is the site around which the mandala (or universe) is created. For Kher, however, the dot is less a point around which something forms than a form itself – in some instances, a gyro; in others, one of many multi-coloured concentric circles the artist has arranged in grids and in expressive overlapping patterns.

Among Kher’s best-known work is The skin speaks a language not its own (2006), a fibreglass baby elephant the artist spent 10 months covering with bindis. Although not included in this exhibition, its presence is felt through works based on body parts common to both humans and animals alike.


Michael Turner

 Sun, Sep 18, 2016