12 Apr 2010
British-Indian artist wins top Danish art prize
New Delhi-based artist Bharti Kher was recently in Denmark to receive the prestigious ARKEN Art Prize.
Inside Herning Art Museum in Western Denmark, lies an actual size fibreglass replica of a whale heart. It is plastered with bindis, the traditional forehead decoration worn by many Indian women. The whale heart is one of Bharti Kher’s contributions to the “Indian Highway” exhibition in Herning Art Museum, displaying contemporary Indian art until 13 June 2010. But what makes her art distinctively Indian?
“I do not think one can speak of a particular Indian art”, says Bharti Kher in an interview with Danish newspaper Politiken (see link at bottom of page). “But of course, artists are always working with the materials that are available, just as we are inspired by what is happening around us. It would not have made much sense if a French artist used the bindis. But for me they were just there as a kind of 'ready-mades', and I thought: I could use those for something".
Underneath the many bindis, the whale heart is cast in fibreglass, but first Kher had to model the sculpture in clay. And that is not an easy material to work with, especially in New Delhi, where the often intense heat makes the clay dry in no time.
Kher is today on the board of the artists’ organisation ‘Khoj’ that she herself co-founded. Here she tries to help future generations of Indian artists get established.
In recent years Bharti Kher’s works of art have been displayed worldwide – and some of them sold for staggering sums. Her visit to Denmark was just barely squeezed into her calendar, as the opening of her first solo exhibition, in the prestigious London gallery Hauser & Wirth, took place the next day.
The Arken Art Prize is given to an artist who contributes to the development of a contemporary experimental, innovative and debate-conducive art. The money prize is a personal distinction to be utilised according to the artists’ wishes. The prize has been awarded since 2006.
More info: http://www.arken.dk/content/us/about_arken/arken_prize