Following a long tradition of depicting the figure in India, Body Chatter explores figurative works by the most renowned artists of India today. The exhibition explores how Indian artists have used the body in painting, photography, and sculpture. Body Chatter includes works by many of the most established artists working in India and the Indian diaspora today including Sheba Chhachhi, Atul Dodiya, Shilpa Gupta, Indira Johnson, Jitish Kallat, Reena Kallat, Bhupen Khakar, Bharti Kher, Nalini Malani, Ravinder Reddy, Gulammohammed Sheikh, and Vivan Sundaram. This exhibition represents a rare opportunity to view the private collection of gallery founder Julie Walsh, who has lent many of the works on display. The opening reception is Friday December 5th from 5-8 pm.
The body has been used throughout time in Indian art in sculptures, paintings, illustrated manuscripts and murals. Many of the contemporary works on display rely on associations with that tradition, while others find primary source material in the popular imagery of India today. Nalini Malani's Stories Retold : Mappings 3 & 4 draw on figures
from both contemporary media as well as traditional Indian myths. The large gold-leafed sculptures of Ravinder Reddy deify everyday women on a monumental scale usually reserved only for the highest deities.
Shilpa Gupta, a Mumbai-based photographer, references the multi-armed bodies of Hindu goddesses in her series of untitled photographs from 2006. Yet in Gupta's work, the four-armed figure—an image of Shilpa Gupta herself—dons military attire. One set of hands covers the eyes, ears, or mouth, while the second set of hands mimics a shooting gun. Here, Shilpa Gupta uses the body as a vehicle for protest against one of the most depraved parts of society today—war and violence.
Similarly, many of the artists place the body in works as a means of social commentary. The 2004 series Covering Letter by Jitish Kallat unleashes images from popular culture, media, and the Internet. In Covering Letter #6, a boy seems to be falling into a hitchcock-esque vortex as a small grey unmarked airplane crashes into his outstretched arm. This painting was created just after the events of 9/11. These figurative paintings engage the viewer in a far too close encounter with the effects of a new era conflicts and fanaticism.
The artists of Body Chatter have shown internationally in galleries, biennales, and museums including the Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago, USA), Gwangju Biennale (Seoul, South Korea), Arco (Madrid, Spain), the Asia Society (New York, USA), Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid, Spain), ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany), Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy) among others.
Special thanks to Air India for their sponsorship of the artists in this exhibition.