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Bari Kumar at Grosvenor Vadehra

02/04/2008, By

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 4016 votes

Grosvenor Vadehra is presenting an exhibition of new works by Californian based Indian artist Bari Kumar in his first solo exhibition in the UK. Bari Kumar was born in Adhra Paresh, Southern India, in 1966 but has been living and working in Los Angeles since 1985. Kumarís work mirrors his personal experience of belonging to more than one culture, or rather, belonging to neither. Kumarís new body work In Transit, reflects not only where he finds himself geographically, constantly travelling between India and the US, but is also a personal reflection on his state of being. Steeped in imagery and loaded references from these two divergent cultures, In Transit suggests he is still in limbo.

Kumarís work is clearly influenced by contemporary visual culture; his works are poster like in their design with bold areas of colour, often incorporating pieces of text or Ďadvertising slogansí. Kumar draws heavily on the lively Indian street life he witnessed growing up; where film and advertisement posters sit next to religious temples defaced with a constantly changing stream of political graffiti. The contemporary imagery in his works is placed alongside religious symbols and icons. By juxtaposing the religious and the popular, Kumar expresses his anxiety about the use of moral and sacred imagery in a media driven modern age.

Kumar, in his use of symbolism and loaded imagery, is keen to explore the idea of miscommunication, something he experienced on his move to the US. He is interested in the effects of context; although visually symbols will remain the same, changing the context in which the symbol is perceived may radically alter the meaning. There is no one way of reading his paintings; the references he incorporates in his works will have different impacts in different cultures.

Also featured in the exhibition are two large-scale fibre constructions. These works are composed of packed rows of material which are in fact womenís petticoats. We are immediately reminded of the small Indian linen shops which Kumar recalls visiting as a child, where multicoloured fabrics are stacked high up to the ceiling. These petticoats are the unseen garment which women wear beneath their saris.

Kumar is interested in the notion of the unseen, he relates the petticoat to the unseen immigrant workforce in America who are an integral part of the social infrastructure, Kumar comments ďitís the immigrant force who help support the system of everyday life, but theyíre an invisible force that are not recognised, they almost donít exist.Ē

Bari Kumar was born in Andhra Pradesh in 1966. He studied at the Rishi Valley School, in 1985 he moved to L.A. where he pursued graphic design at Otis / Parsons School of Design graduating in 1988. Exhibitions include: 2007, Acceptance of Denial, Bose Pacia Gallery, New York, NY; 2006, In Absentia, Bombay Art Gallery, Mumbai, India; 2005, Brown is the new Black, Billy Shire Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA; 2004, Export Quality, Bose Pacia Gallery, Chelsea, NY; 2002, Neither Here Nor There, Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; 2000 Shifting Perceptions: Contemporary L.A. Visions, Pacific Asia Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Bari Kumar currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

9th to 24th May
Grosvenor Vadehra
21 Ryder Street
London SW1Y 6PX
+44 (0)20 7484 7979
Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Saturday: 11 am to 4 pm
Admission free

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