INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST
- Born in 1974, Calcutta, India
- Lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
UNDERSTANDING THE ARTIST
Nikhil Chopra’s art defies being strictly categorised. His practice involves elements of theatre with him assuming different roles and characters with elaborate sets and costumes, changes done in full public view, enacting everyday activities like washing, sleeping, shaving and dressing, while drawing and sketching. These props, set design, and the costumes, left as remnants of the performance, resemble still life paintings. Photography is used as a medium of documenting the memorable transformations in his performance art.
Nikhil Chopra’s execution of everyday mundane tasks suggests a ritualising of behaviour, exemplifying the symbolic and spiritual in it. For instance, the very act of shaving the head is associated with the death of a family member and has mystical associations with the shedding of the ego.
All the characters that the artist dons, they engage themselves in a common activity of drawing—sketching on paper, on the wall or on movable boards, as a form of measure of time.
Through the processes of drawing, disguise and installation, the audience witnesses the process of creation rather than only the end product of artistic creation. The artist, taking upon the character of a Queen, draughtsman, wanderer or gentleman walks across the gallery space, exits into the street, spilling and extending the performative boundary of the physical space, the audience is free to follow him or stay put. Chopra does not verbally interact with his viewers and chooses to remain in a solitary space. The relationship between the viewer and the artist where each is aware of the other’s gaze is fraught with tension over a possible breach of boundary between them.
Nikhil Chopra, Blackening-II , 2012, 5 Hours, GlogouAIR, Berlin
Nikhil Chopra, Blackening III, 2012, 27 hours, Grüntaler 9
Nikhil Chopra, Broken White II, 2011, duration 54 hours, Centre Pompidou
Nikhil Chopra, Sir Raja II, 2003, 2 hours, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Nikhil Chopra, Sir Raja III visits New York City, 2008, 6 hours, Chatterjee & Lal with Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Nikhil Chopra, Yog Raj Chitrakar - Memory Drawing IX, 2009, 72 hours over 5 days, New Museum, New York
Nikhil Chopra, Yog Raj Chitrakar -Memory Drawing VI, 2009, 96 hours, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels
Nikhil Chopra, Yograj Chitrakar visits Lal Chowk, 2007, duration 3 Hours, Khoj Kasheer
Nikhil Chopra, Yog Raj Chitrakar and Tokyo, 2008, duration 3 Hours, Chalo! India, Mori Museum Tokyo
Nikhil Chopra, Sir Raja III – What will I do with all this land, 2005, The Fourth Floor, Kitab Mahal, Mumbai.