New York

Marcus Leatherdale

In Marcus Leatherdale’s scrupulous Indian portraits, he posed his subjects before a dark, unobtrusive canvas that he sets up at markets or in the courtyard of his house in Varanasi (Benares). In all but three of the twenty-five works on view, he used natural light. This neutral staging of all the portraits allows differences in the religious, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds of his subjects to reveal themselves. A portrait of the dwarf Amrit Lal shows him standing on top of a small wooden table, his arms raised in the air, a key hanging from his neck by a lanyard. According to Leatherdale, Lal is exhorting people to be happy, but his face seems masklike and reveals an expression nearer to fear or sadness than joy. Hari Shankar Yogi (all works 1997), a white-haired sadhu (a Hindu ascetic), stands with his eyes closed. The vertical crease at the center of his brow is outlined by two thin

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