Bharti Kher @ Perrotin PARIS

Bharti Kher’s exhibition has an accordion like effect, taking the viewer on different registers. The effect is much like her vast studio in Gurgaon where objects lie in grand chaos, and the mood seems to shift on different floors. The range of materials confounds, because of the alchemical magic that she seems to tease and seduce from odd conjunctions and unfamiliar disparities. There’s nothing seemingly extraordinary about the figures in the sculpture, “Six Women”. Frontally nude, and seated, the contours of their breasts and stomachs nestle in mutual comfort, like the folds of time. Their bodies reveal few secrets. Kher has chosen the studio artist’s compact with his model of 19th century France, of the female nude, and the complex arrangements around the choice of model. Appropriately, she creates for her exhibition in Paris the prostitute as model – a popular subject in French academic painting, and a motif of the French Belle Epoque. Kher’s figures have neither the ambiguity of romance nor the promise of pleasure and favoured haunts that excited the imagination of the 19th century artist. Unlike the “magical brightness of gas lamps” that Gustave Flaubert wrote of as the ideal setting for the prostitute, Kher presents her figures in the harsh reality of daylight. She identifies and draws her figures from Sonagachi in Kolkata, which translates from Bengali as tree of gold, South Asia’s largest area for pleasure seekers. Her treatment of the nude derives from a body cast for each figure – and speaks of the act of trust and intimacy that lies at the core of the practice.

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