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Atul Bhalla (B. 1964)
River Crossing
digital print on archival paper
48 x 45 1/8 in. (119.9 x 114.5 cm.)
Executed in 2008; number three from an edition of five
Gallery Espace, New Delhi

Lot Essay

Atul Bhalla's recent body of work addresses the changing landscape of his native New Delhi. Industrialization, ecology and the preservation of natural resources inform his art and often shed a sardonic light on the declining relationship between man and the environment. Spending time walking the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, Bhalla sought to understand the intimate interaction between the water, its surrounding fauna and the city's inhabitants.

Divided by the Yamuna, the inhabitants of the village Jagatpur use boats to commute between their homes and agricultural land on the either sides of the river. In River Crossing we see one such farmer mounting a boat with his bicycle; the routiness of the activity creating the feeling of a whispered chant as he prepares for his destination. Jagatpur has often been referenced by Bhalla in his oeuvre. While the artist had been visiting the Yamuna since 1998 it was only in 2000, when he was at Jagatpur that he realized how he wanted to address the river in his work. Subsequently, the village has appeared in a number of his pieces, including I was not waving but Drowning 1 & 2 and Yamuna Walk.


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