Bharti Kher’s Monumental Sculpture Unveils At Central Park New York

Monumental Sculpture

The artist says her sculpture of a mother figure, located at the southeast entrance of the park, represents “a guide to search and honour our past histories.”

Ancestor, an 18-feet-tall with body of painted bronze sculpture by Bharti Kher, is a powerful new monument. The Ancestor is on display in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, near Fifth Avenue and 59th Street entrances of the park in New York, since September 8th and will continue until August 2023. 

Depicting a universal mythical mother figure linking our cultural and personal pasts and futures, Ancestor is Kher’s most ambitious work to date. Ancestor is the most monumental entry in Kher’s practice that spans three decades. It belongs to the artist’s ongoing “Intermediaries” series. Ancestors invite us to consider a transitional space between the past and the present – somewhere between the concept of truth and actual reality lies the destiny of human imagination.

Bharti Kher, born in London, is a contemporary artist. She has worked in painting, sculpture, and installation. Kher is well-known for her signature use of bindi in her paintings and sculptures. An important theme in Kher’s practice is the idea of transformation, where she activates materials to give them a new form. Bharti Kher has worked in a variety of media, creating paintings, sculptures, installations, and text. Kher’s primary material is manufactured versions of traditional Indian bindis.

Kher created a resolutely feminine figure. Adorned with the heads of her 23 children that extend from her body, she embodies multiculturalism, pluralism, and interconnectedness. Her name is Ancestor, and she is a mythical and powerful female force that pays homage to the generations before and after her. She honours her mothers and their mothers, their stories and histories and journeys. She carries the heads of her many children that extend from her womb, belly, shoulders, and back. Her children are from everywhere: all countries, all religions, all genders, all peoples; she embodies multiculturalism, pluralism, and interconnectedness. 

“Ancestor is exactly the kind of monument we need in the 21st century,” says Public Art Fund Adjunct Curator Daniel S. Palmer. “They manifest a sense of belonging and celebrate the mother as a keeper of wisdom and the eternal source of creation and refuge,” He added. The Ancestor too invokes themes of female multiplicity. Ancestors invite us to consider a transitional space between the past and the present – somewhere between the concept of truth and actual reality lies the destiny of human imagination.

  • Noorain Sheikh 

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