Bharti Kher: A Consummate Joy

Friday 13 March – Sunday 17 May 2020
Bharti Kher, Artemis, 2019, Clay, cement, wax, brass, 157.2 x 30 x 30 cm / 61 7/8 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches, Sculpture: 48.2 x 16 x 16 cm, Cement plinth: 100.5 x 30 cm. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Bharti Kher, Consummate joy and a Sisyphean task, 2019, Wood, copper, steel, red jasper stone, 247 x 66.9 x 200 cm / 97 1/4 x 26 3/8 x 78 3/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. | Bharti Kher: A Consummate Joy | Friday 13 March  – Sunday 17 May 2020 | IMMA

IMMA presents A Consummate Joy, a solo exhibition by acclaimed British-Indian artist Bharti Kher (b1969 London). Kher’s art gives form to daily life and its rituals in a way that reassesses and transforms its meaning to yield an air of magical realism.

A Consummate Joy comprises nineteen new and recent works, ranging from sculpture, painting, installation and watercolours. Now living in New Delhi, India, Kher’s use of found objects is informed by her own position as an artist located between geographic and social surroundings. Kher’s way of working is exploratory; surveying, looking, collecting and transforming, as she repositions the viewer’s relationship with the object and initiates a dialogue between metaphysical and material pursuits.

Bharti Kher on the significance of showing her work in Ireland said “Ireland has always been an interest for me in its similarities to ancient Indian history and mythologies; from the worship of pagan goddesses to the practice of oral storytelling and song”. 

At the centre of Kher’s practice are her sculptures, early examples of which featured fantastical hybrid characters, blurring the distinctions between humans and nature, ecology and politics. In line with this early practice, Kher continues to assemble, juxtapose and transform found objects that are witness to their own histories.

The title of the exhibition, A Consummate Joy, is taken from a work in the exhibition, Consummate joy and a Sisyphean task (2019), a sculpture made of wood, copper, steel and red jasper stone. The term Sisyphean is derived from Greek mythology, where Sisyphus was punished in Hades for his misdeeds in life by being condemned eternally to roll a heavy stone up a hill. As he reached the top, the stone rolled back down again and his labour in loop, was everlasting and seemingly futile. This endless metaphor translates for the artist as a metaphor for the cycle of life itself, aligning Eastern and Western philosophies. A Consummate Joy celebrates the repetition of all cycles, to find meaning in the everyday, in the enacting and activating of our daily rituals.

The exhibition explores further these cycles of life and Kher’s interest in myth and the narrative, in the work Artemis (2019), also inspired by ancient Greek mythology. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, animals and the moon. Kher portrays her as the ‘many breasted’ goddess and her many heads represent her plurality. She is the archetype mother goddess and is also its antithesis, of death, she gives life and takes away life. Artemis like many of the female Indian goddesses such as Kali, that Kher also refers to in her sculptural works, remain for her, essentially transformative beings, whose equivocal natures, both nourish and destroy.

Rachel Thomas, Senior Curator: Head of exhibitions at IMMA, said

“Bharti Kher’s practice acknowledges and celebrates the architypes women of great importance from mythology and the past. It is interesting then to have the exhibition here as Ireland has a wealth of Celtic goddesses who were pioneers and shaped history. This exhibition explores these themes with complex narratives of history, duality and questions the ideas of ritual itself.”

Three of Kher’s artworks are currently on show at IMMA as part of the international group exhibition Desire: A Revision from the 20th Century to the Digital Age. Two sculptures And all the while the benevolent slept (2008) and Warrior with Cloak and Shield (2008), an empowered life-size hybrid sculpture of a half-woman, half-stag; and the painting Blind matter, dark night (2017), one of Kher’s Bhindi paintings; the Bindi is a signature material of Kher’s work. Desire: A Revision is on show until 22 March 2020. The work, Warrior with Cloak and Shield, started a conversation with the artist on the role of the female, both in historical, mythological and contemporary representations that then led to the inspiration for her solo exhibition at IMMA.

Bharti Kher was born in 1969 in London, England and lives in New Delhi, India. She studied painting, graduating in 1991 from Newcastle Polytechnic. In 1992 she travelled to India, deciding to live there in 1993. Kher’s recent solo exhibitions include: ‘A Wonderful Anarchy’ Hauser & Wirth Somerset, ‘Chimeras’, Centre Pasqu’Art, Biel (2018), ‘Djinns, things, places’, Galerie Perrotin, Tokyo (2018), ‘Points de départ, points qui lient’, DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal (2018), ‘Dark Matter’, Museum Frieder Burda, Berlin, 2017), ‘This Breathing House’, Freud Museum, London (2016), ‘The Laws of Reversed Effort’, Galerie Perrotin, Paris (2016),’Three decimal points. of a minute of a second. of a degree’, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich (2014) and ‘Misdemeanours’, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai(2014).

Recent group exhibitions include: ‘In the Company of Artists’ Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2019), ‘Desire in Art, from the 20th Century to the Digital Age’, IMMA, Dublin (2019), ‘Les arts du Tout-Monde’, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (2019), ‘Driving Forces: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Ann and Ron Pizzuti’, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus (2019), ‘Facing India’ Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg (2018), ‘Like Life: Sculpture, Colour and the Body (1300-Now)’, The Metropolitan Museum, New York (2018), ‘Vision Exchange: Perspectives from India to Canada’, Canada tour: Art Gallery of Alberta – Alberta; University of Toronto Art Centre – Toronto; Winnipeg Art Gallery – Winnipeg (2018-2019).

Associated Talks, Events

Preview Artist Discussion / Bharti Kher and Dr Lisa Godson
Thursday 12 March 2020, 5.30pm, Lecture Room, Booking required – Book here

Image: Bharti Kher, Artemis, 2019, Clay, cement, wax, brass, 157.2 x 30 x 30 cm / 61 7/8 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches, Sculpture: 48.2 x 16 x 16 cm, Cement plinth: 100.5 x 30 cm. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Bharti Kher, Consummate joy and a Sisyphean task, 2019, Wood, copper, steel, red jasper stone, 247 x 66.9 x 200 cm / 97 1/4 x 26 3/8 x 78 3/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
Friday 13 March – Sunday 17 May 2020
IMMA
Royal Hospital, Kilmainham
Dublin 8
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www.imma.ie
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