Uday K. Dhar: From Purusha to Paradise

November 5, 2016 – February 10, 2017

Curated by Jeff Paul

Uday K. DharUday K. Dhar: In Paradise (Garage), 2013, Acrylic-bonded claywith sand, acrylic paints, and glitter on canvas with wood support, in a unique rhinestone-adorned frame, 48"x42".

Uday K. Dhar: From Purusha to Paradise considers the transformative power of migration and global integration. Dhar was born in Great Britain, raised as a child in India, spent his teenage years in Queens, New York, and realized his potential as an artist in Berlin, Germany later in adulthood. In synthesizing these experiences, Dhar recognizes identity in an ever-evolving sense of fluidity. This solo exhibition presents four works from his Mirror, Mirror on the Wall series in addition to a standalone piece, In Paradise (Garage).

Dhar’s Mirror, Mirror series is grounded in the Purusha, a Hindu concept of the elemental man and the true essence of Self. Each work begins with a simple silhouette representing the Purusha and undergoes a metamorphosis. Layered, colored, and deeply textured, they are uniquely formed by the complex dynamics of a global society. Dhar manifests these artistic and cultural negotiations - masculinity and femininity, East and West, past and present, figurative and abstract - by embracing hybridity and multiplicity in his work. 

In Paradise (Garage) continues this narrative, commenting on the collision of cultural influences. Dhar, a relatively new immigrant from India, befriended three other students of color while an undergraduate at Columbia University in the mid-1970s. Dhar fondly remembers them introducing him to African American music. Together, they frequented Paradise Garage, a culturally diverse club in downtown New York. Dhar’s rhinestone-studded work reflects the delirium and movement of the club, a glimmering vision of an otherworldly utopia. 

Uday K. Dhar: From Purusha to Paradise presents a celebration of the individual as a blend of cultures, times, and influences, persisting as a testament to the beauty in diversity and unity.  

Uday K. Dhar was trained as an architect, earning his B.A. at Columbia College, Columbia University, and an M.A. at the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University. He received the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2005-2006) and the Weir Farm Trust Grant (2006), and is a former fellow of the Vermont Studio Center, MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. Dhar's works are held in numerous private collections and have been exhibited globally including the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA (2016), FLUX Art Fair, New York (2015), the Whittier Center, Boston, MA (2014), the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York (2014), LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York (2013), Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai, India, (2013), Figment, Governor's Island, New York (2012) and the Queens Museum, New York (2011).

Jeff Paul is a first year M.A. student in the Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MODA) program at Columbia University and the 2016-2017 Russ Berrie Fellow of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. Jeff recently graduated from Northeastern University with Honors, earning a B.S. in Business Administration and a minor in Art History, and was the recipient of Northeastern University's Dean's Scholarship. He has held internships at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Artnet, and Adobe.

The Russ Berrie Pavilion Exhibition Series highlights the work of contemporary artists from upper Manhattan. The series offers an annual opportunity for a graduate student to take on a curatorial role, gain valuable experience, and learn about creativity in the neighborhood. This series is a collaboration between Columbia University's Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, the Office of Public Programs and Engagement at School of the Arts, and Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center.