Chitra Ganesh presents to us a collection of photographs, works on paper, digital collages, and paintings. Throughout all these media, Ganesh reveals disjunctive narratives, cracking visual motifs and aesthetically pleasing, fantastically overwhelming constructions. Having already developed a visual vocabulary enriched with that which could be considered Indian, queer and camp, the artist continues to explore the nature of authorship while confounding our cultural, sexual and gender definitions.
In Secrets and Fingerprints, two large-scale digital collages created for the show, Ganesh furthers her original tactics of visual intervention (recombined Indian comics with destabilizing textural supplements) through a higher degree of manipulation and the inclusion of her own iconic visual vocabulary. Classical motifs such as idyllic landscapes and nudes are interrupted by winged scalpels flying past three-headed women in a tartly colored panorama, reminiscent of a Homeric epic. These disparate images are pushed further by the artist’s evocative speech balloons and a veneer of violence, leading to a loss of visual and linguistic boundaries.
Hidden, a triptych of staged photographs, moves Ganesh’s range into the physical real. A nude, wearing a Cyclops-mask adorned with ribbon-lined panties, participates in rituals requiring a bloody offering bowl, disproportionately large eyes and other surreal props. The spectacle and location reference a number of Asian traditions such as the madasiddhas, whose pursuit of enlightenment includes an unusual engagement with violence and sexual excess while Ganesh’s feministic concerns voice themselves through an ironic use of pink silks and the vindication of carnal pleasure.
Additional paintings and an installation, along with the previously mentioned works, each highlight a different vantage point though all speak to the decentralization of artistic practice. Much like mythologies, both Eastern and Western, wherein deities are at once disparate and unified, Ganesh’s work is a unity of separate productive moves working in harmony. While firmly rooted in a Western, postmodern discourse, the artist’s cultural references enable her to convey the principle of a multiplicity as a spirit which draws together, not breaks apart, a permeating authorial presence.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Chitra Ganesh received a BA in Art-Semiotics and Comparative Literature from Brown University (magna cum laude) and an MFA from Columbia University. Over the past years, her work has appeared in Fatal Love, Queens Museum of Art, 2005; Subcontingent, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, 2006; One Way or Another, Asia Society, New York, 2006; and will appear in Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, ZKM, Karlsruhe. Ganesh has also received wide critical support with ten reviews in The New York Times and articles in Flash Art, Marie Claire, Art Asia Pacific, Art in America, Art India, Newsweek, The Village Voice, and Time Out New York, among others.