An 18-foot-tall patinated bronze sculpture by New Delhi- and London-based artist Bharti Kher was unveiled at the southeast entrance to Central Park in New York on September 8 (on view through August 27, 2023).
Depicting a universal mother figure linking our cultural and personal pasts and futures, ‘Ancestor’ is Kher’s most ambitious work to date. The sculpture stems from the artist’s ongoing ‘Intermediaries’ series in which she reassembles small, broken clay figurines of humans, animals, and mythical beings into hybrid figures that defy a fixed identity.
“‘Ancestor’ is a resolutely feminine figure. Adorned with the heads of her 23 children that extend from her body, she embodies multiculturalism, pluralism, and interconnectedness. They manifest a sense of belonging and celebrate the mother as a keeper of wisdom and the eternal source of creation and refuge.
“‘Ancestor’ is exactly the kind of monument we need in the 21st century,” said Public Art Fund Adjunct Curator Daniel S. Palmer. “It is a deeply personal expression of hybridity and global identity that invites a dialogue about the importance of honoring our ancestors and fostering cultural exchange.”
“I invite viewers to leave their wishes, dreams and prayers with ‘Ancestor’; and to pass on their wisdom of living and love to the next generation,” says artist Bharti Kher. “She is the keeper of all memories and time. A vessel for you to travel into the future, a guide to search and honor our past histories, and a companion-right here, right now-in New York City.”
“Bharti Kher has a gift for meaningfully bridging shared experiences and histories. ‘Ancestor’ is a work we all need in these times. After the installation abroad, I am very honored to be giving ‘Ancestor’ home at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art for all to come and share their wishes and seek her companionship,” says Kiran Nadar, Chairperson, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.