As the old saying goes, a good teacher shows you where to look but doesn’t tell you what to see.
An artist paints. The viewer looks and searches to find meaning in what they see. Texture. Color. Emotion. Intellect. Don’t let the artist’s thoughts change your views.
In black and white, seeing the world without colors helps me see the raw emotion in front of me. Colors emit mixed emotions. Red for anger. Blue for serenity. Yellow for mellow.
Having six women looking at a panel of painting will result to different emotions.
Obscuring their faces to concentrate on their body postures and contours will also ignite our feelings. Neck. Shoulders. Breast. Abdomen. Hands. Legs. Feet. Nakedness. Age.
And I thought they must have been very good looking when they were younger and elegant with clothes on — my, my, how our body changed. Many women are so proud of their bodies. Taking the utmost care to appear sexy. I was once like them. Full of vanity. In my aging body, mine is no different than theirs.
These are life-size plasters of women that appear to be meditating. This is my interpretation. No meaning. Sometimes, I prefer it that way. I don’t want to know. I am afraid to know. Fear seems to be the strongest emotion.
It’s better to play a game in my head.
Who are these six women. What if I call them female. Is being a female the same thing as a woman. What if one is not really female. Is the man trapped in a female body? Did the man have a sex change?
How about six generations. Which one is the great grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter, granddaughter, niece? Do they all live together? What kind of relationship do they have? Healthy? Loving? Caring? Obedient?
Ah, that sounds much better. My emotion is starting to feel positive.
I am so glad that these figures are colorless. Devoid of race.
How close was my imagination, I wonder.
In every artwork, there is a brief description that I read last so that it will not influence my thoughts. And it reads:
Six Women, 2013-15
plaster, wood, resin
Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth
In her most recent work, Six Women, Bharti Kher cast the bodies of female sex workers living in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the capital of India’s West Bengal state and home to one of the country’s largest brothel-based sex industries. The women were paid by the artist to sit and be cast in plaster by her. These six individuals provide not only an arresting and unapologetic representation of the aging female body as a counterpoint to social pressures to stay forever young, but they also serve as witnesses to the disregard for women who have obliged the patriarchy.