Dissecting, evaluating and decoding Amita Bhatt’s solo exhibition requires an understanding of Buddhist Thangka paintings, and all 64 categories of Hindu art. Without them, one can only begin to dive into the foreboding elixir of guilt, confidence, reassurance, and pervasive misgivings in the artist’s supernatural, yet contemporary world.
In the far left of the Blue Star‘s Project Room, Depends Who You Ask is a full scale experimental/sensational installation, with large scale drawings from floor to ceiling. Bhatt’s illustrations tell a nonlinear narrative of her personal struggle to understand the world around her.
Surrounding yourself in Bhatt’s work, you feel a bit claustrophobic, unnerved, disoriented, and squeamish as you are bombarded with beheadings, rituals, war, and quirky bits of pop culture.
Masks, facial expressions, and costumes (some more New Zealand than Hindu influenced) pepper the carnage of twisted bodies, intersecting limbs, and tantric sutras. Captivated by our own misguided understanding of everyone’s role in this demonic dance, we are witness to a visual and spiritual train wreck that we cannot look away from.
Mesmerizing us with weapons piercing flesh, religious victories, deceit, punishments, and personal struggles, Bhatt also uses a bibliography of novels, epic narratives, civil dissertations, and social commentaries as guidance through her own nonjudgmental perception of deeds done, faux pas prosecuted, and norms exploited (see bibliography below). This devil’s advocate approach reveals the underlying premise behind the title. We do not know which perspective to trust, to dismiss, or embrace.
With its enormously complex, personalized codex of demonic demeanors, Bhatt’s environment needs the meditation benches provided by Blue Star for hour-long immersion and meditative contemplation.
Texas Tough at the Blue Star Art Museum’s Project Space features Jill Bedgood, Amita Bhatt, Sharon Kopriva, and Sherry Owens. The exhibition is on view through August 24, 2013.
For further reading:
Mafia Queens of Mumbai- Stories of Women from the Ganglands by S. Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges
How to Read Lacan, and Violence by Slavoj Zizek
The Art of Tantra by Philip Rawson
Discipline & Punish -The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault
Blood and Beauty: Organized Violence in the Art and Architecture of Mesoamerica and Central America by Heather Ort and Rex Koontz.