Critics’ Picks

Measure (Water), 2004.

Measure (Water), 2004.

New York

Nataraj Sharma

Bose Pacia
163 Plymouth Street
January 20–February 19, 2005

Next month, “Edge of Desire,” the first major exhibition of contemporary Indian art in the United States, opens in New York at the Queens Museum of Art and Asia Society. That this productive and innovative art scene is long overdue for focused attention is made plain with the first North American solo show of one of its participants, Nataraj Sharma. The Baroda-based artist’s ten paintings and four works on paper display a developed and expansive visual language—all the better for his intelligent critique of human intrusion in the natural world, and, more broadly, of the disjointed perceptual quantification that characterizes our way of understanding the visible. Many of Sharma’s landscapes are churning, chaotic abstractions in which exterior sites appear as aberrant and unlikely environments for life, denuded by the ravages of progress, empty and sullen. Systems order a majority of Sharma’s works, yet standard modes of measurement and classification are always shown to be inadequate. The uneven grids that overlie the blanched, nearly indistinguishable scapes in Measure (Sky) and Measure (Water) (both 2004) irregularly map nothingness; Spy in the House of Love, 2003—which depicts a stately building with its entire façade removed to reveal a series of rooms, observed by a single nude man—amounts to a misformed panopticon of eroticism; and the carefully structured sequence of figures in Hierarchical Arselickers, 2004, span a canvas only to fold back on each other in an abutting one.