Itch, Scratch, Raw is a large triptych created by Bharti Kher in 2006. It consists of three separate reflective aluminium panels covered with thousands of felt bindis - circular and serpent-shaped dots made of felt and worn by modern Indian women on their foreheads as a symbol of the third eye - a sequence of different abstract patterns and clusters.
Kher began painting with bindis in 1995 after what she has described as a 'supernova' moment of revelation when she came across a woman in India wearing a serpentshaped bindi on her forehead. A powerful symbol of an old India now undergoing rapid change and modernisation this ancient sperm-like symbol of spiritual awareness, applied to their foreheads daily by millions of women across the subcontinent, immediately suggested itself as a rich and appropriate tool for her art. With the help of several female studio assistants, most of whom have themselves migrated from central India to Delhi where the London-born Kher now lives with her husband Subodh Gupta, Kher collates thousands of these bindis. In her paintings and often in her deliberately disconcerting sculptures as well she and her female assistants apply these felt bindis in vast clusters of patterns so as to suggest abstract patterns that seem to invoke a sense of migratory flow and constellations of form building and dissipating in complex, unintelligible and cosmic-looking rhythms.
Like satellite images or microscopic ones, the patterns that Kher creates seem to hint at a rich but unknown organism of form. In this, and in the fact that each of these felt dots signifies a collective action made by millions of individuals on a daily basis, these colourful dots come to stand for the constant flux and migration patterns of today's modern world of mass transit and cultural interchange, especially in a vast nation such as India now undergoing such a dramatic period of growth and transition. Fusing this sense of symbolism, history and metaphor with an understanding of the tradition of Western abstraction, Kher's radiant and colourful paintings become fascinating works of social abstraction highly reflective of today's changing world.