Artist of the Day | Bharti Kher

November 23, 2017


Bharti Kher

Bindi on painted board
53 9/10 in diameter

Bharti Kher appropriates culturally significant objects such as the bindi, religious artifacts, and domestic items. In the tondo's "bindi paintings" she applies the traditional head marking of Indian women to the painterly legacies of the abstract art canvas.

The term bindi is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for a dot or a point, sometimes considered the creative seed or womb of the universe and to mark the third eye. When worn by women in the customary color of red, it is a symbol of marriage yet in recent times it has become a decorative item, worn by unmarried girls and women of any religion transformed into a fashion accessory. The morphing of the traditional significance of the bindi from a symbol full of latent religious meaning to a mass produced object that has become an increasingly global commodity, is relevant to Kher's work which appears to be informed by her memories of having lived and worked in both the UK and India.

Sculptor, painter, and installation artist Bharti Kher explores the power of objects to evoke and inform psychological experience. One of India’s most prominent contemporary artists, Kher uses the “medium” of traditional and sperm-shaped bindis in her practice, whether employed in swirling painted gestures or running through her eclectic range of large sculptural installations. For Kher, the bindi—the traditional forehead dot worn by Hindu women—symbolizes a complex intersection of religious ritual, domesticity, commodity, and aesthetic beauty. Her sculptural installation pieces have included a large-scale cube of defunct radiators and life-sized elephants covered in her signature bindis. “I’m still not interested in the thread [that’s] supposed to connect me all together with my work or otherwise,” she says. “We are all hybrids and totally unpredictable. I wanted to make that apparent in my practice.”

Indian, b. 1969, London, United Kingdom, based in New Delhi, India
courtesy of

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