The Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University is pleased to present Messengers, an exhibition of paintings, sculpture and works on paper by internationally known artist Bharti Kher (b. 1969, London, UK). The exhibit will open on February 23 and continue through March 23, 2018. The artist will be present the week of February 20 and will be engaged in gallery talks, student critiques and will present a public lecture on Friday, February 23.

Bharti Kher’s visit to the Indiana University campus is part of India Remixed: Arts and Humanities in Contemporary Indian Culture. The global festival is sponsored by the Indiana University Bloomington’s Arts & Humanities Council.

One of India’s most prominent contemporary artists, Bharti Kher uses the “medium” of traditional and sperm- shaped bindis in her practice, whether employed in swirling gestures on works on paper and paintings or employed in her large sculptural works. For Kher, the bindi—the traditional forehead dot worn by Hindu women—symbolizes a complex intersection of religious ritual, domesticity, commodity, and aesthetic beauty.

The bindis play with the visual aesthetic and conceptual ideas that I have been pushing for many years now: the bindi as an object of ritual (the sacred now turned secular), of conceptual clarity (as the third eye) and brazen habit. It becomes a leitmotif that connects disparate ideas and things and now functions like a skin that marks a surface. The application of the bindi represents an unbroken ritual practiced daily by millions of Indian women and has been described by anthropologist Marcel Mauss as “techniques of the body,” which, like other physical disciplines such as consumption and eating, are repetitive and periodic. I take it all and run with the possibility of making image and idea look beautiful and the bindis make the works feel strangely human.

(Bharti Kher, 2012)

Her art, according to the critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, offers 'a very relevant negotiation with old India and the present ... it's a productive tension between tradition and modernity’.

Messengers will include several large-scale paintings, in which bindis of different shapes and colors are incorporated into and onto a painted surface. These works utilize a variety of materials, which Kher readily admits is an important aspect of her work. Several of the pieces include media as diverse as wax, wood, cork, glass, and mirrors, all in a careful interplay with bindis, one of her signature materials. Sculptural works, and works on paper, in which the artist uses bindis as a mapping device, will also be included, making the exhibition a small but intimate display revealing key aspects of the artist’s focus.

Bharti Kher was born in England and educated at Newcastle Polytechnic, receiving a degree in 1991. At 23, she moved to New Delhi, India, where she continues to live and work. She has exhibited in many solo shows worldwide, most recently at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston, the Freud Museum, London, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Perth, Australia. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, and she is represented by Hauser & Wirth, worldwide.