We are pleased to present an exhibition of work by celebrated Indian artist Sohan Qadri, one of the few modern painters of note deeply engaged with spirituality, in our newly renovated and expanded Chelsea gallery. This is the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work since his death in 2011 and a rare opportunity to see some of his early oils on canvas alongside a selection of vibrantly color-saturated works on paper. This exhibition also includes one of only a handful of ultra large-scale paintings by the artist.
Born in Chachoki, Punjab, India, in 1932, Sohan Qadri was a poet, painter and Tantric yogi. He is perhaps best known for his luminous, dye-infused works on heavy paper, which explore the notion of emptiness or voids. Relying on a language of orifices and elongated paths or lines, Qadri abandoned representation in search of transcendence. He was particularly inspired by Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism, which emphasizes the notion of sunyata or emptiness. Qadri’s minimalist compositions on paper are symbolic of this empty space or void from which seeds—the punctures—arise. The seeds are primordial symbols representing the self in the universe, the notion of creation, and a sexual union.
To begin his process, Qadri would bathe thick intaglio paper in acid-free water. Once it was swollen with liquid, he would rhythmically score the surface with various gouging and cutting tools, carving in stages while applying inks and dyes. Imbued with vibrant hues, the serrated surfaces possess a strong sense of energy and rhythm. In the artist’s hands, the very nature of paper was transformed from a flat, two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional medium. Qadri was initiated into yogic practice at age seven. In 1965, he left India and began a series of travels that took him to East Africa, North America and Europe. He eventually set up a studio in Zurich before settling in Copenhagen where he lived for forty years. He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions across the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa, including, most notably, in Frontiers Reimagined, a Collateral Event of the Venice Biennale in 2015.
Sohan Qadri’s works are in the collections of the British Museum, London; the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts; the Rubin Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; as well as the private collections of Cirque du Soleil, Heinrich Böll and Dr. Robert Thurman. In 2011, Skira Editore published the monograph Sohan Qadri: The Seer.