The Guild Art Gallery is pleased to present Onlookers, first ever solo exhibition of Ashutosh Bhardwaj previewing on Thursday, June 14.
Onlookers addresses the artist’s ongoing concerns with the agency involved in establishing clichés, stereotypes or ‘the general view’.
The artist implies that given the plethora of communicative possibilities and the omnipresence of social and traditional media, the agency of the recipients of this continuous flow of information is diminished. The choices of agency or its applicability are slowly being eroded so much so that, these choices are increasingly fragmented, which in turn aids information fatigue and endangers activity.
Furthermore this second hand viewing of ourselves (the subject), although in many ways simply aspirational is nonetheless passive. Our agency as subjects is reduced and subjective to collectivized opinions which themselves are second hand and we are bound to become onlookers to our own mode of existence. At the same time, the distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’, or ‘subject’ and ‘object’ implies that the responsibility of agency itself is fluid and given that the distinction is no longer valid as we create, recreate and propagate our own content (identities) agency as a term for differentiation becomes problematic.
Within this background, Bhardwaj brings to the fore the subject and its idolization. In Cannibals, he employs within the frame of a television set, a self-portrait of himself enacting various roles, set up as a silent tableau where the arrangement of the elements within the frame stages a mock yet ominous picture of the plight of the subject as seen and exhibited. This he seems to imply is also the act of experience, where gathering bits of information, visual or otherwise, forms an identity and the only precarious agency is one of choice.
Fear Me (Not) attempts a playful imaging and conception of fictitious idols. Large-sized cricket balls sculpted and cast out of fibreglass have been anthropomorphized. By dressing these balls with various other objects and images the semblance of a head is created. These are balanced on tall pedestals made to look like donation boxes. Each of these ‘idols’ appears to be representative of a social convention or stereotyping. The work attempts a sardonic comment on the creation of clichés.
Born in 1981, Bhardwaj obtained his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.U, Baroda 2004. He is the receiver of the National scholarship 2003-05 and the Nasreen Mohamedi award. He participated in Peer 04, Residency at Khoj, New Delhi, 2004 and Artist Residency at The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2009. In 2008 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi presented his solo show Sleep Walker. Some of his selected group shows include Excrescence curated by Maya Kovskaya, The Guild, Mumbai, 2011; Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern & Contemporary Art from India, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, USA; Alternate to Another, The Guild, New York, 2010; Art Celebrates 2010: Sports and the City, an Exhibition of Indian Contemporary Art curated by Rupika Chawla; A New Vanguard: Trends in Contemporary Indian Art, Saffronart, New York and The Guild, New York, 2009; Meandering Membranes, Empire Art & The Shrine Gallery, New Delhi, 2007; Asian Young Artist in Heyri, Paju City, South Korea, 2007; Hybrid Trends, India Festival curated by Insang Song, Seoul Art Center, South Korea, 2006.