signed and dated 'Bharti Kher 2007' (on the reverse) each
bindis on painted board; triptych
72½ x 72½ in. (183 x 183 cm.) each
Executed in 2007; Three panels (3)
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Formerly from the Vanmoerkerke collection
Phillips de Pury, 3 April 2008, lot 53
R. Hoskote, Bharti Kher, Jack Shainman Gallery, Hyderabad, 2007, pp. 102-06 (illustrated)

Lot Essay

Bharti Kher is one of the leading female protagonists of the new generation of contemporary Indian artists. In 2012, her sculpture of a life-sized, female elephant covered in sperm-shaped bindis, The Skin Speaks a Language Not its Own (2006), was dubbed by Financial Times art critic, Jackie Wullschlager, as the only "iconic" piece of art to emerge from a spate of major 21st Century Indian art surveys. Along with fellow Indian artist, Rina Banerjee, Art + Auction magazine named Kher one of the world's "50 Next Most Collectible Artists" in June 2012.

Kher began painting with bindis in 1995 after what she describes as a 'supernova' moment coming across a woman in India wearing a serpent shaped bindi on her forehead. A powerful symbol of an old India undergoing rapid change, the bindi is linked to spiritual awareness and Hindu religious traditions associated with marriage and a woman's role in the four main stages of life. During Hindu wedding ceremonies the groom smears red vermillion on the bride's hairline signifying the 'tying of the knot'. For Kher cultural significance is central to her art. A recurring motif, like the Ashoka wheel rooted in Indian traditions used as the central motif in India's national flag, the bindi is at the center of social and cultural identity, a sign of a married woman and her place in society. Today bindis are readily available in shops throughout India in the form of mass-produced stickers, invoking the clash of commerce and culture.
Kher has a distinct perspective when it comes to India, as she is a relatively rare 'reverse migrant'-- she left Great Britain, where she was born and educated, in her early 20s, 'returning' to a country she had only visited as a young child. Arriving in India in 1992, the same year the Indian Government began passing laws toward economic liberalization; Kher has experienced first-hand the turbulence of economic and socio-political change.

With the help of several female studio assistants, most of whom have themselves migrated from other parts of India to New Delhi where Kher now lives with her husband Subodh Gupta; Kher collates thousands of these bindis. In her paintings and often in her deliberately grotesque sculptures she and her female assistants apply bindis in vast clusters creating abstract patterns with great fluidity and rhythm resembling constellation-like images.

Landscape, is a large triptych created by Kher in 2007. Bindis swirl together to form an extraordinarily textured surface resembling satellite images of the sea. Kher's bindis, like schools of fish, move in sync throughout the vast ocean mimicking the constant flux and migration patterns of today's modern world. Fusing this sense of symbolism, history and metaphor with an understanding of the tradition of abstract art, Kher's radiant and colorful painting is fascinating work of great beauty reflective of the changing world.

Seminal paintings like these have caught the attention of the international art world. In recent years, Kher has exhibited with several leading museums including the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; Centre Pompidou, France and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D. C., making her one of the most sought after artists, not just from India but on the international arena. In 2014, the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, China will present a major museum solo exhibition of her work.

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