Matter is the artist’s first major North American survey. It features the diversity of Bharti Kher’s practice, incorporating elements of painting, photography and sculpture that have been the hallmarks of her international career over the past two decades. Kher’s artworks are varied in material, sensibility and subject matter, yet are bound together by her penetrating explorations into the meaning of human relationships, spirituality, the animal world and the role of the femininity in today’s society. Her work leaves us to ponder what it means to be human today.
Kher’s iconic bindi paintings, which are made on a variety of surfaces, reveal a personal language of mark-making that speaks eloquently about female ritual and repetition. Whether applied to paper, mirror, board, cabinetry or a giant sculptural whale’s heart, the bindis bring gender into the reading of these artworks. In Kher’s early photographic images and sculptures, it is ideas of hybridity that feature prominently. These unsettling images fuse classical stereotypes of beauty with those of contemporary domesticity and female empowerment. Male and female are blurred, the sacred and profane are fused, and human and animal merge. The absence of the body is also visited by Kher in her sculptures. Utilizing everyday objects such as saris and domestic furniture, she comments on the complexities of personal and societal norms, especially as they pertain to identity and gender, both in India and around the world. In her most recent project, Six Women (2013-15) the physical returns, Kher confronts perceptions about the aging female body.
Born in London, England, in the 1960s, Kher studied at Middlesex Polytechnic, London, and later received her BA Honours in Fine Art–Painting from Newcastle Polytechnic in 1991. She moved to India in 1993 and continues to live and work in New Delhi. She has exhibited extensively internationally and her work is held in major collections around the world.