Bharti Kher: Sketchbooks and Diaries debuts in the Gardner Museum’s Fenway Gallery

BOSTON– While living at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as an Artist-in-Residence, Bharti Kher spent time wandering the galleries, contemplating the works of art, feeling enriched and recharged, and, in response, created a portfolio of drawings which will be on view in the Fenway Gallery, beginning Sept. 20.

For the exhibition called “Bharti Kher: Sketchbooks and Diaries,” Kher has installed a series of drawings taken from her 42cm x 30cm sketchbook as well as notebooks, writings, and reflections created during her month-long residency in 2013. Featured are 11 framed drawings and one framed mixed media work on paper as well as four unframed drawings, various notebooks, and photographs presented in a long case.

“Kher seems to have had just the right amount of affection and irony for the objects she was looking at in the galleries,” said Pieranna Cavalchini, the Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art who directs the Artist-in-Residency Program. “The drawings are very tactile and often provocative. They are charged with humor and a capriciousness that is smart and mischievous at the same time.”

Bharti Kher. Courtesy of the artist.

For some of the drawings, Kher assumes the mask or skin of an animal and portrays herself with a slightly suggestive pose or smile, projecting a strong sense of self. The works reflect on gender, motherhood, biology, the female figure, and the artist’s interested in anatomy and the physiology of pregnancy. “They speak of empathy and love while investigating the enigmatic paradoxes and ambiguities of what it means to be human,” Cavalchini said.

Born in London in 1969, Kher was in residence at the Museum in 2013 and returned in 2015 for a façade installation that she created. She studied at Middlesex Polytechnic in London and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art painting with honors at New Castle Polytechnic in 1988.

Her work has been exhibited globally, including at the Freud Museum, London; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; MAXXI Museum, Roma; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Saatchi Gallery, London; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; with solo shows at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong and Paris; Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London; and Nature Morte, New Delhi.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum • 25 Evans Way Boston MA 02215 • Hours: Open Daily from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays until 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. • Admission: Adults $15; Seniors $12; Students $5; Free for members, children under 18, everyone on his/her birthday, and all named “Isabella” • $2 off admission with a same-day Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ticket.

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