Bharti Kher: Alchemies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Sculpture of a nude woman with the head of a cow placed on top of the woman's head
Bharti Kher, Animus Mundi (detail), 2018. © Bharti Kher. Courtesy of the artist and Nature Morte. Photo © Jeetin Sharma.

Bharti Kher: Alchemies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield 22 June 2024 — 27 April 2025 Tickets from £0.00 — Book now

Bharti Kher comes to YSP this June, headlining the Park’s programme with Alchemies, an exhibition of sculpture across the Underground Gallery and outdoors.

Living between London and New Delhi, the artist creates from a position of in-betweenness, across different countries and societies. She often questions binaries and hierarchies throughout her oeuvre yet the predominant motif is that of a female body and experience. In Alchemies, she reframes the perspective and position of women from her own experiences.

The large-scale display spans many different phases in the artist’s practice and developing interests, from abstraction to more figurative pieces. Kher’s practice as a whole defies categorisation: despite developing a clear vocabulary of symbols and motifs she comes back to, her works are very multifaceted.

The more abstract works are gathered at the start of the show, with The deaf room (2001-12) as a focal point. The imposing structure of a dark chamber is made from 10 tonnes of melted glass bangles turned into glass bricks. The titular alchemy is particularly clear here, and once again we see the idea of opposites – the delicate pieces of jewellery are turned into thick angular blocks. The piece captures Kher’s response to the 2002 Gujarat riots, highlighting violence against women. 

Perhaps some of Bharti Kher’s best known works are the shattered mirror pieces covered in bindis. She describes the process of breaking things as a way to know it: “When you break something, you free it from itself”, recreating it once more during the process of repair. These pieces invite the viewer to look closely to truly see their intricate beauty. Bindis and other found objects, including some that carry strong cultural significance such as saris and glass bangles, regularly recur throughout her work. 

Many other works such as the sculpture Strange Attractor (2021) and the collage series The Hybrid Series (2004) consist of hybrids of women with animals or otherworldly creatures, harnessing the power of mythical goddesses and the visceral aspects of womanhood.

As well as the gallery display, you’ll also find four bronze sculptures in the grounds of the Park.

Bharti Kher: Alchemies is an exhibition overflowing with symbolism, rich in materials and textures yet unified in its conceptual concerns. Her approach to sculpture seems to nod towards the past and historical sculpture traditions whilst also firmly embedding itself in the present and highlighting the potential of sculpture in the future. 

Bharti Kher: Alchemies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield 22 June 2024 — 27 April 2025 Tickets from £0.00 Book now

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