Walsh Gallery

Sundaram: Re–take of Amrita


Dates: Mar 4 2005 - Apr 23 2005

Opening Reception: Mar 4 2005

"Re-take of Amrita" : Photographs by Vivan Sundaram

Chicago, Illinois;

Reincarnation Lives in "Retake of Amrita"

Vivan Sundaram has been one of India's premiere artists since the early 1960's. This exhibition examines the intersection of autobiography and history. Presented are a fifty-five piece photography series as well as a new media installation with a piano. In his photography series "Retake of Amrita", time and space are reinvented using intimate family photographs. Mr. Sundaram recombines two legendary figures (his aunt Amrita and her father Umrao) into fictitious, digitally manipulated settings. Sundaram's family members go through a time warp, appearing together despite the constraints of death and place. The show will run from March 4 through April 23. The opening reception is on Friday, March 4 from 5-9 p.m. Mr. Sundaram will be coming from Delhi for the opening reception.

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) was a legendary bohemian Indo-Hungarian painter.. She was Mr. Sundaram's aunt as well as a pioneer of figurative modernism in India. She studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris in the 1930's and was positioned to be a major artist until she died an untimely death in her late twenties. It wasn't until her nephew Vivan that she was looked at critically as not just a great painter, but as a "woman of uncontrolled and varied passions". Sundaram's grandfather, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil (1870-1954), was also legendary. It is his photographs of his daughter Amrita that are seen throughout the series. Umrao has been credited as one of the earliest serious photographers in India. Also something of a narcissist, we see many of his self-portraits in Sundaram's series as well.

Sundaram's video installation, called "Indira's Piano", features two monitors with animations combined with an upright piano. These new media works, based on photographs also taken by Sundaram's grandfather, are about Sher-Gil's wife and second daughter. Despite the different natures of these two women, they share the fact that they were unable to reach fulfillment in their lives.

Sundaram's body of work allows his family to repossess their bodies and desires, becoming reincarnated after all.

Mr. Sundaram's work has appeared in numerous biennial exhibitions including: Shanghai, Johannesburg, Kwangju and Havana; as well as institutions such as: the Asia Society and Queens Museum (New York), Japan Foundation, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), the Tate Modern (London), and the House of World Cultures (Berlin).