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Bharti Kher’s new installation opens at the Freud Museum

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 October 2016

The Chimera (2), 2016, Wax, concrete, plaster, Hessian fibre, brass, 119.5 x 29 x 29 cm, Courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth, Photography Jeetin Jagdish

The Chimera (2), 2016, Wax, concrete, plaster, Hessian fibre, brass, 119.5 x 29 x 29 cm, Courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth, Photography Jeetin Jagdish

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The Breathing House, Bharti Kher’s new installation at the Freud Museum, is a dialogue with the house and an exploration of family life, finds Zoe Paskett

Mother, 2016, Plaster, wood, metal, 140 x 63 x 96 cm, Courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth, Photography Jeetin JagdishMother, 2016, Plaster, wood, metal, 140 x 63 x 96 cm, Courtesy the artist and Hauser and Wirth, Photography Jeetin Jagdish

The Freud Museum’s interest lies in its ability to inspire art as well as self-reflection. Bharti Kher is the latest artist to create work based on this space.

The new exhibition focuses on themes of the domestic, exploring an intersection between Freud’s family life and that of the artist. The exhibition title comes from Kher referring to the house as a “breathing entity”.

Kher’s work stands in stark contrast to the installation of her predecessor, Mark Wallinger, who had taken over Freud’s former house for the past few months. The only similarity is their interpretation of self-reflection through analysis (Wallinger installed a mirror on the study ceiling), but instead of creating a perfect reflection, Kher’s What can I tell you that you don’t know already (2014) is a series of smashed mirrors, showing imperfect impressions.

Kher’s first piece Bloodline (2000) runs like a vein from the high atrium ceiling to the floor. Created from red glass bangles, the work represents the sound of women moving, and filled with LED lights, the tower glows. This is the first indication of her interpretation of the house as a living space.

Links in a chain, 2016, Mixed media, In 6 parts; each 182 x 72.5 x 25 cm, Photography Jeetin JagdishLinks in a chain, 2016, Mixed media, In 6 parts; each 182 x 72.5 x 25 cm, Photography Jeetin Jagdish

Introducing life size plaster cast figures of her parents into Freud’s study, Kher identifies skin as the body’s purveyor of memory “through the casting of the skin, through the memory of this tactility of plaster and how it impregnates the skin and somehow takes the essence through the pores”.

Placed like patients in the room, the naked figures are literal interpretations of the act of baring all through psychoanalysis.

“You are trying to capture their breath,” she says, “to find the imprint of their minds and thoughts and the secrets of the soul.”

The casting theme continues with The Chimera series, three facial imprints whose sedimentary layers evoke the discovery of semi-precious stones inside a rock.

Further pieces upstairs reflect on balancing emotions, broken idolatry and child development.

Kher says: “We watch as our children play adult games and we hardly realise that we play them too.”

Kher’s work has been the subject of numerous solo shows around the world, including “In Her Own Language” at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery in Perth, “three decimal points. Of a minute of a second of a degree” at Hauser & Wirth in Zurich and “Misdemeanors” in Shanghai and Parasol Unit, London.

This Breathing House is at the Freud Museum until November 20. freud.org.uk

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