Atul Bhalla’ solo show @ Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

December 01, 2018


New Delhi: Vadehra Art Galleryis presenting Delhi-based artistAtul Bhalla’s Anhedonic Dehiscencein their gallery in D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi (November 30 to January 3, 2019).

Anhedonic Dehiscence consists of a combination of new and old body of works – including archival prints, diasecs and installation. With this set of works, Bhalla is in a search for the elusive historical and social truth that can possibly never be known.  

For him, truth takes the form of water, a recurring motif in his works – liquid in its totality and form, elusive that can never quite be held or possessed. Water takes the shape of a glass or the sea; in 1919 a glass of water was shared by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, and the question begged was – who “stained” it first (jutha)? In search of that glass, Bhalla found himself creating the series Objects of Fictitious Togetherness. 

Historical that bleeds into the present - afflictions and violence occupy Bhalla, and he attempts to conjure history in referential dialogue, re-addressing lost pasts, and re-locates such in the personal, the social, and the cultural. We see a seemingly unmoving videowork of an interior, the only mosque built by a Sikh guru in Sri Hargobindpur, Bhalla’s hometown. But here the cracks, like a wound or dehiscence, dissolve and reappear. They are slow but pending and present, unfocused as one’s vision is. One is unable to grasp. 

An 83-year old man was set on fire outside of a temple; he was Dalit. 
A young girl who spoke out against sexual violence, was beheaded.  

Bhalla brings us back to present culminations through his landscapes and still-lifes. They are pleasure-less – anhedonic alienation and dissociation. Perfect landscapes breakaway and slivers of wounds tear open, as the viewer expects (blood) gushing. Anhedonic dehiscence is the social condition. 

A series of self-portraits challenge the viewer – the artist has never been more present. Bhalla implicates himself in search of this truth and confines the blame or responsibility to his self. 

What does one bring to the table? History, memory, a proclamation? 

Bhalla stakes his slab of meat in the conversation, and meets the viewer’s eyes, demanding introspection. The meat remains as is, where the glass of water is shifted around, never spilled.  

Atul Bhalla has explored the physical, historical, and political significance of water in the urban environment of New Delhi through artworks that incorporate sculpture, painting, installation, video, photography, and performance.

His recent solo shows include: You Always Step into the Same River at SepaiEYE New York 2015; On the Edge and Ya Ki Kuch Aur at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2011 and 2014 respectively. He is has shown his photographic work Yamuna Walk within Other and Me  Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah 2014 and with Walk On From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff – 40 years of art-walking, curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell, at NGCA He lives and works in New Delhi. 

Bhalla lives and works in Delhi. And is an Associate professor at the Shiv Nadar University at the department of Art and Performance.