Whether they treat it as an animal, art form or political statement, 12 of India’s most important contemporary artists make the human body a vibrant figure in 30 rarely seen photographs, sculptures, installations and paintings from gallerist Julie Walsh’s private collection.
Viewers are greeted by Ravinder Reddy’s two larger-than-life, gold-leafed sculptures of Indian women, which come off as the show’s protective deities. Woman’s (2008) open arms and buxom curves project a warm, motherly vibe, and the bulging eyes and ruby-red lips of Radha (2007) make the 6'5" head particularly striking. Fusing Hindu and Pop art, Reddy’s works emanate goddesslike power while representing a strong Indian everywoman.
Identity politics make Bharti Kher’s “Hybrid” photographs the most disturbing pieces in “Body Chatter.” The Delhi artist’s four digital prints depict women whose bodies, children or appliances morph into grotesque animal figures, representing the women’s lack of control in their battle to transcend domesticity. The bare-chested, heavily pregnant woman in Hybrid 1: Angel has her face obscured by a motorcycle helmet; she holds a bat-winged, blue-skinned baby, and a vacuum cleaner with the head of a German shepherd sits at their feet, completing a repulsive interpretation of motherhood’s constraints.
Reena Kallat also politicizes the body in Crease/Crevice/Contour, ten photographs of a woman’s naked back stamped with Indian names in red, which illustrate the stages of the Indo-Pakistani wars and the altering borders of Kashmir’s Line of Control.
Though these pieces, which are less than a decade old, acknowledge India’s transformation into a global power, they beautifully mesh modern life with the influences of traditional culture and religion.
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