May 2009 New York – Bose Pacia presents Ranbir Kaleka's Reading Man from May 14 – June 27, 2009. The gallery is located at 508 West 26th Street on the 11th Floor, in the Chelsea district of New York City. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 to 6 pm and Saturday 12 to 6. The artist will be in attendance at the opening reception on Thursday, May 14th from 6 to 8 pm.
Reading Man marks Kaleka's much-anticipated exhibition of painting installations. The artist has continued a vocabulary of figurative painting which employs an intricate form of narrative realism. Each of his characters inhabit a singular universe replete with personal histories and habits. By marrying realistic figures and passages of intense coloration and uncanny juxtapositions of images, the artist creates contemporary tableaux of subconscious visions and exploratory dreamscapes.
Each of the four works included in the exhibition present a central figure and narrative possibilities. The Reading Man, whose skin is made of sun-baked yellow clay, stands as a hunter in an eroded landscape filled with leafless trees, a lone deer, and a distant mirage of a forgotten Arcadian oasis. The scene eludes to notions of failed promise and greed. The Storyteller, whose skin is made of glazed oven-baked dark clay, huddles next to an antiquated machine in a passage of forced migration and famine. The Itinerant Librarian, whose skin is worn and creased with excessive spots, moles and warts, stands in the mirror weighing the decision to cut his beard – a question relevant to many in the age of terrorist profiling. And lastly, the Ochre Dust figure with transparent skin made of translucent porcelain stands as a beacon of narcissism as battle tanks approach in the distance.
In recent years Kaleka's works have explored notions of space, tactility, and temporality through a combination of video projections onto painted canvases and other surfaces. In this new body of paintings several of the works employ large-scale sculptural installation components such as mirrors, window panels, found and fabricated objects, and metal armatures. Kaleka's previous video works reflect the artist's fascination with cinema, in which canvases become animated and activated surfaces. The works featured in this exhibition continue to point to a cinematic undercurrent through the fabrication of absorptive mise-en-scène installations.
Ranbir Kaleka was born in 1953, raised in the Punjabi city of Patiala and studied at the College of Art in Chandigarh (1970-75) and received a Masters Degree in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1987. Reading Man is Kaleka's third solo exhibition with Bose Pacia (2005, 2007). The preview of this exhibition marks his second exhibition with Nature Morte in New Delhi (1995). The artist's works have been included in most of the major museum exhibitions of Indian contemporary art taking places over the past decade, including: Chalo! India at the Mori Museum in Tokyo (2008); India Moderna at the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain (2008); New Narratives at the Chicago Cultural Center (2007); HORN PLEASE! at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2007); Urban Manners at Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2007); Hungry God: Indian Contemporary Art at Busan Museum of Modern Art, South Korea (2006); Art Video Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami (2006); Edge of Desire at Asia Society in New York (2005); iCon: India Contemporary at the Venice Biennale (2005); Culturgest-Lison, Lison (2004); Zoom! Art in Contemporary India, Lisbon (2004); and subTerrain: Indian Contemporary Art at House of World Cultures, Berlin (2003). In 2007 Kaleka was commissioned to create a permanent video installation for the new Spertus Museum in Chicago and in 2008 his work was included in the Sydney Biennale. Ranbir Kaleka lives and works in New Delhi.