Perrotin Tokyo is pleased to present a new exhibition by English born, New Delhi-based artist Bharti Kher. Marking a further development of her existing practice, Kher demonstrates through her work an understanding of the fate and foibles of modern life, as they manifest themselves through our habitual actions and social activities. Less static and more situations based, Kher sees her configurations of forms as intuitive forms reflective of a country carried by a wealth of interests that include film, faith, and future technologies. Serving as nourishment for Kher’s progressive preoccupation with materials and matter, coupled with her investigative interest in human behaviour, as the actual and the evanescent become the basis for a series of cyclical works that touch on an idea, and then return to it time and again. As with a rich history of artists before her, Kher sees the city and its detritus as being a population’s physical and material skin. And in as much as the city is subject to the will and wisdom of modernity, Kher sees societal advances as having come at the cost of the individual. Siting power, progress and politics as having superseded more ephemeral energies and age-old alliances between people, of the land, the hand, and the individual. That as a juncture for the artist, is where art as a living-breathing document, becomes as meaningful a language as the hundreds of spoken and broken dialects that cover the continent as human sound systems.
For Kher the joy of making work, the routine of walking into and out of her studio everyday comes with the knowledge that she is witness to the evolution of social history as it unfolds. As the lives of those around her are a measure of her willingness to want to explore, and come to explain what it is to be in and of a modern metropolis. Applying plastic to wood, turning poetry into creative code, pressing bindi’s to painted board, balancing granite over concrete, and lying an ailing elephant on its side, are the actions of adventure for the artist. Who sees her role not entirely as provocateur or protagonist, but more fundamentally as a witness, watching over reality with an alien eye, seeing everything anew.
Having replaced England for India, Kher comprehends her work as a response to the circumstances of the society and city she has become part of, in which people, politics and pollution are unforgivingly pressed together. In as much as the arteries and anatomy of the city beyond the studio are constantly in flux, so with her work it is as though it could all change in an instance, as the potential for action acts as an overwhelming energy for her work. Seeing individual objects as entire universes, Kher explains everything as not just being about what we see, in her choice of readymade and materials combine, but of what is implicit in the work.
As her bindi pieces, weight induced sculptures, and domestic forms as configurations, all carry by camouflage notions of desire, dread, death and decay, hurt, and hate. Triggering the sensations and sentiments that recall the sheer delight and difficulty of fitting into a fixed and equally fluid culture. As a citizen of her city Kher creates works that serve as a measure of her understanding of being part of the world, as a civil servant, socialite or insolvent.
And for all its determined independence, Kher’s work concentrates on the inclusion of so many issues and ideas, which she would argue are currently lacking from society. That with the rise of industries and new technologies has overshadowing a country crippled by corruption and social taboos. Artists in this instance act as truth-tellers, offering up alternative narratives, that are as pleasurable as they prove problematic.