In an evening when the art world had its eye looking to the Armory's Gala Benefit; Hauser & Wirth Gallery managed to attract a very selective crowd to the opening of Bharti Kher's exhibition entitled "The Hot Winds that Blow from the West" where five new pieces by the admired London-born, Delhi-based artist are now in view.
Welcomed by "A View of the Forest" a beautiful multi green-toned piece composed by Kher's now famous bindis, we are ushered through the hallway to meet "A line through space and time"; a staircase in an empty room that leads up to nowhere, a remarkable piece of work covered by sperm-shaped bindis and that could be an invitation to a more fertile time in life, or perhaps the opposite, we wonder. The bindis, more than a fashion accessory in the Indian culture and constantly present in Kher's work since 1995 are as she explains "meant to represent a third eye - one that forges a link between the real and the spiritual-conceptual worlds."
The heavy weight radiator-composed piece in the back room gives name to the exhibition and could probably benefit from a larger space, but it is an astonishing work of art none the less. For this piece the artist sourced 131 radiators from the United States, the west, over the course of six years and shipped them to India, the east, where it was assembled.
The title of this work references The Loo, a fiercely hot and occasionally fatal summer afternoon wind that blows across North India and Pakistan. "We think of winds as harbinger of change, carrying voices of transformation", Kher has said. "From where I sit, the winds blowing nowadays from the west - from the places that were the seats of power and authority throughout the 20th century - are no longer as strong or reliable as they were." Traveling east these radiators, symbol of domestic comfort in the west, lost its purpose and the artist continues to offer explanation; "I suppose I am sending them back to the West as messenger and, perhaps, warnings. Other voices are changing the landscape now and political uncertainties have put the world in flux.".
On the second floor however comes the most brilliant and breathtaking piece, shown last spring at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, "Reveal the secrets that you seek" throws us in a room of wonders composed by 27 shattered mirrors covered by bindis, this entire room feels warm and inviting, and the broken mirrors, which to general belief would symbolize bad luck, in this case are binded by the bindis that call out just the opposite and show us that even when shattered to pieces it is possible to find beauty and reconciliation.
The last piece, "The messenger", shines on it's own, in a striking yoga position, balanced by it's own weight, as a yogi would, this fiber glass sculpture is described by Kher as "an urban witch, a woman of both mythology and everyday life, a hybrid" and the effect is haunting. This sculpture is the most recent in a series of figurative works in which Kher has presented hybrid beings that conjoin contradictions of gender, species, race and role. For this work the artist has drawn upon the attributes of the Hindu goddess Dakini, who is considered the manifestation of energy in female form, which in this case is also partly animal.
An astonishing accomplishment for Hauser & Wirth, this show is overall a breathtaking display of Bharti Kher's brilliance.