Review: Nikhil Chopra, Rouge series at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge

Nikhil Chopra, Live Performance Drawing, Rouge series, 3 Dec 2019

Kettles Yard, University of Cambridge

Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan

Caged, stripped bare to skin, wild bodily hair engulfs, yet cushions a man crushed and curled in his metamorphic act, seeking purpose. Piercing gaze, troubled memories shared – abandoned soul(s) – tragically ripped, emptied of life’s vigour… eternally imprisoned – in the tragedy of loss.

A quest to seek familiarity, reclaim self, in a dandy-fashioning and posturing seductive ego to find (a) home, means landscapes and territorial lines are redrawn (again), reimagined and this in lipstick red – a mischievously skilled etchings of sorts unfold, playful poetry performed, engaging publics to close loops of separation… isolation. Solidarity and commonalities at the fore of multiplicities of what we were, are and could become, realised in the smudging and cloud of scenic paint.

In the etchings the hills continue to bleed though, or is it simply autumn? Any acts of defiance or rebellion to liberate shackles, are left awkwardly floating, nowhere to rise or fall but back into the gravitational pull of a dark sea of despair. So… euphoria short-lived, cruelly taken in a landscape of lifeless khoon and surreal dystopian traps, yet in its melancholic detail and aura of contemplation there is a magnificent exuberance – textured in an ink that kisses walls – in the “illusion of infinity” (Chopra 2019).

Touched but do not touch the art.

More information about the performance here.

About Nikhil Chopra

Nikhil Chopra is a performance artist whose work generally centres on the remnants of India’s colonial past. Deeply influenced by his Kashmiri identity, Chopra creates characters that are not fixed in time or space, not historically accurate, yet immensely real and endearing. As a performance artist, Chopra collapses the boundaries between theatre and several other artistic endeavours, including set design, costume and makeup design, and photography and video documentation.

Chopra’s ‘Sir Raja’ project is probably his best known work. In this piece, the artist blurs the boundaries between the performance space and the audience space, grappling with the challenge of being himself as the protagonist, while rendering himself as someone else. Chopra has also dabbled in creating art right before the audience, sketching landscapes using charcoal on paper or on the wall during his performances.  Chopra graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University, Baroda, and went on to study at Maryland Institute, Baltimore, and Ohio State University. In 2007, Chopra was artist in residence at Khoj International Artists’ Association, New Delhi.

More about the artist can be found here.

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