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Raghvi Bhatia

November 11 – December 16, 2023

Press Release
       Raghvi Bhatia was born and raised in New Delhi, India - a city that was once famous for its religious pluralism and has been growing exponentially more sectarian. In her home city, Bhatia witnessed firsthand how integral aspects of human society are wielded by organized religion, to further their insular, often theocratic, agendas. In response to this myopic and exclusionary tendency that she observed in existing religions, Bhatia developed her artistic practice as an alternative model for a functional religious sect— positioned as an offshoot of contemporary art, which she also considers to be a religion— as a method to salvage these valuable and increasingly scarce spiritual aspects. Framing her art practice as a sect upends conventional conceptions of religion, creating room to question complicated notions of purity, morality and absolutism. The sect (created as a local religion) provides a coherent worldview to organize her practice and govern her work, as evidenced in Intermediations, Bhatia’s first solo show in the United States.

Bhatia’s personal investment in craft has rooted her sect in material. The three main saints of the sect are material manifestations of universal virtues found across all major organized religions. They are: Glass (manifestation of Light / Purity), Skin (manifestation of Self / Labor) and Water (manifestation of Ablution / Ritual). These three saints are the foundation of the language, rituals, context, and a visual lexicon Bhatia developed for the sect. Crucially, she does not consider herself the creator or theistic entity for the religion but rather moves through different roles as intermediary: translator, intercessor, or sibyl. As intermediary Bhatia constantly revisits reinterprets and her work, the way that someone using religious artifacts would. She invites variables of change and chance that are traditionally considered detrimental to artwork. The forms of the tiles are inspired by Zellige, a Moorish mosaic craft wherein glazed tiles are individually chiseled into one of 1300 distinct shapes, each with a specific name, Bhatia has assembled a lexicon of these names to translate Zellige patterns into poetry. Employing each shape as a logogram, the resulting sacred language has a uniquely non-linear syntax, like the radial patterns of Zellige.

Glass, Skin and Water are each present in Intermediations on several different planes--- from the literal physical material: glass panes, to the representational: paintings of the WHO’s COVID handwashing protocol, to the conceptual and ephemeral, for example The will of the deity is to break— a series of 9 prints created by repeatedly running a pane of glass through a printing press. Bhatia “reads” the resulting map of physical forms created by broken glass, translating according to the tenets of her religion, the way a palmist would read the skin of a hand. As the intermediary, Bhatia simply announcing the presence of the glass, the will of which is to break. The resulting maps are etching onto corresponding glass panes titled The will of the deity is to break (translated), hung on the opposing wall of the gallery.

All the works in Intermediations cohere under a consistent structure of rituals, syntax and process. The apotheosis of Bhatia’s all encompassing vision is Faultonal Composition for Nonet, No. 1, acollaboration with Raúl Feliz and Dakota Higgins, the sound piece playing in the gallery. All world religions have developed their own musical genres, traditions of performance, and systems of notation and production. “Faultonality” is the musical system invented to establish such a tradition in Bhatia's religion. Feliz & Higgins assisted in developing an algorithm that analyzes lines and uses the angles, lengths and ratios to modulates wave forms, thus developing a sonic interpretation of a visual image.

Faultonal Composition for Nonet, No. 1 applies the algorithm to the 9 prints in The will of the deity is to break. The sounds we hear are 9 discrete sounds, such a bell, glass breaking, etc. that are modulated by the cracks in the pane and layered of top of each other. The piece is 9 minutes long, for the 9 prints. Intermediations invites the viewer to trace the connections between all the artworks, and explore the possibilities of increasingly complexity as sites of infinite potential.

Raghvi Bhatia was born in New Delhi, India. She holds a BFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design and is currently pursuing an MFA in Sculpture at UCLA. Bhatia has previously exhibited in USA, Delhi, and Morocco.

Installation Views 

Selected Work

Stigmatic Fountain, 2023
Ceramic, drain, grout, gouache, MDF, fused glass seed beads, unfired paper clay  
57 x 48 x 48 in 
(144.8 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm)

Divination Drawings #3, 2022
Print, mylar, Kozo paper
18.5 x 28.5 x 1.5 in 
(47 x 72.4 x 3.8 cm)

Astigmatic Fountain, 2023
Gouache on plywood (hair, resin, rocks, blood, grout)
46 x 46 x 1 in 
(116.8 x 116.8 x 2.5 cm)

Unpredictable Time Piece 1, 2023
Ceramic, gouache, glass seed beads
16 x 16 x 6 in  (40.6 x 40.6 x 15.2 cm)

Unpredictable Time Piece 2, 2023
Ceramic, gouache, mirror
19 x 19 x 9 in  (48.3 x 48.3 x 22.9 cm)

Unpredictable Time Piece 3, 2023
Ceramic, gouache, resin, silver nitrate
19 x 19 x 9 in  (48.3 x 48.3 x 22.9 cm)

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 1, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions variable

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 2, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions Variable

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 8, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions Variable

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 4, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions Variable

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 6, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions Variable

Somewhere (lost rocks collection) 7, 2023
Found rocks, unfired paper clay, glass, wax
Dimensions Variable

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