As one enters the main exhibition space of Nature Morte’s new gallery in a converted granary at Chattarpur, Delhi, minimalistically designed by Tushant Bansal, one is confronted by a Strange Attractor. She welcomes the visitor with a clay dish perched on her proto-phallic shaft-except that the dish does not offer canapés but the replica of a home. The miniature of house and tree picks up on the plastic fluorescence of the halo above the creature’s head, blending sanctity with kitsch. Meanwhile, the unhoused, pre-formal, pre-sacralized hybrid body-woman and priapic progenitor, shaman and ape-holds out the dream of form, and of home, as its future perfect. But the wooden semi-arc curving out of her nether orifice also takes the viewer on a reverse journey, back from the synthetic to the organic, from the modern to the primal. Like Shakespeare’s enigmatic monster Caliban who alone is blessed with the sound of heaven’s music and cries to dream again when awake, it is the monkey-woman to whom the dream belongs, her eyes closed, face rapt in yearning. The commercially reproducible images of domestic cosiness and divine light are ours. Material mimes the movement of the mind, as so often seen in Bharti Kher’s work: the resin that forms this creature is cast from clay modelled on a gorilla-skeleton replica.
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