One highlight will be the installation Virus VIII (2017). Conceived specifically for Salon Berlin, it will engage one of Gerhard Richter’s famous 1974 “Gray Paintings” in dialogue. Kher, who was born in London in 1969 and has lived and worked in Delhi since the early 1990s, is one of the most important international contemporary artists of her generation.
Against the backdrop of a globalized world in which civilization and nature are increasingly out of balance, Kher’s works impart a positively physical experience of convulsion, uncertainty, and sweeping change. At the same time, they portray the continuous quest for conciliation and union. Kher is interested in that moment when ostensibly antagonistic forces enter a state of equilibrium and engender novel experiences and meanings. In creating her sculptures, installations, and pictures, she experiments with highly divergent materials: fiberglass, wood, steel, shattered mirrors, but also bindis, the dots Hindu women paint or stick on their foreheads—between the eyebrows, at the location of the “third eye”—as a spiritual symbol.
Kher employs bindis as an artistic device, covering the surfaces of sculptures and readymades with a shimmering all-over, a kind of second skin, or constructing paintings with abstract patterns out of countless individual dots. Originally associated with femininity and religious devotion, bindis are now also a mass product and fashionable accessory. Kher’s bindi pieces emphasize both aspects: the material as much as the spiritual dimension.
Composed of mirror shards and covered with bindis, the wall installation What can I tell you that you don’t know already (2013) renders a splintered kaleidoscopic universe that reflects the beholder’s image. Combining the aggressive act of destruction with intimations of creation and healing, the cracks in the glass are the birthplace of a world, containing the seeds of microcosmic as well as macrocosmic renewal.
A central series of sculptures in the exhibition playfully stages the continual interplay of antagonistic forces that nonetheless at a certain point achieve equilibrium. The sculptures literally maintain a fragile equipoise. We may see these austere readymade pieces as metaphors of Kher’s art as a whole, which strikes a precarious balance between widely different and mutually contradictory contexts of meaning and systems of thought.
As Dark Matter (MM) (2015), the title of the motif that appears on the poster of the exhibition suggests, Kher’s art dissolves such polarities in a paradoxical experience. Her works possess an exceptionally powerful physical presence and yet remain intangible. In physics, dark matter is a postulated form of matter that cannot be seen as such but interacts with the visible universe through gravity. Similarly, Kher’s art ultimately comes into being by virtue of the forces of attraction sparked between the beholder and her work.