Saturday, July 6, 2013

Quick glance at the oevre of India's top performance artist

Known to be an unconventional art practitioner, Nikhil Chopra follows a distinct mode of creation but situates himself firmly within the Indian context. Having participated in the 53rd Venice Biennale; the Kunsten Festival Des Arts in Brussels; a group show at Marina Abramovic; Serpentine Gallery, London; the Pompidou Centre in Paris; and so on, he has already received immense recognition internationally as a dynamic and unique performance artist.

Live performance is critical to Nikhil Chopra’s practice. The score or script for it usually revolves around making of a drawing. His idea is to question the level of engagement in terms of intensity with the performer – swinging from his presentation as an object on display to narrator of his character’s life tale.

His lavish outfits are made by a costume designer who works exactly to the artist’s specifications. A ubiquitous performance at one level and an unusual work of art at another level, the artist will make us contemplate and get involved in his tableaux created with a mix of painted backdrops and vivacious video, he himself inserted into the picture.

His art looks to explore the fine boundaries existing between performance, live art, theatre, photography, drawing and sculpture. He is walking the thin line between two contrasting worlds - fictional and autobiographical, the real and theatrical. He merges these fascinating reflections with serene, seductive, multi-disciplinary allusions. His aloof role-playing means when playing a character, he won’t utter a word or make any eye contact. His multiple personalities silently but surely make us to reassess our pre-defined notions and assumptions about history as well as our immediate milieu.

Duration has become an important aspect in his work. Elaborating on it, the artist states, “What does the cycle of day & night do to a performance? When I wake up in the morning and realize I’m in the middle of a performance in public view, what choice will I make? What indeed is real and what is theatrical? And how do I project this transformation?” Nikhil Chopra feels that performance art as a genre has ‘a huge space’, which is still unchartered.

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