Ravinder Reddy

Head | South Kensington | painted and gilded polyester-resin fibreglass | 47.6 x 30.5 x 44.5 cm

“A heroic art with a common touch: kitsch for the ages.”

Holland Cotter, in The New York Times

Ravinder Reddy, as a New York Times headline recently put it, loves women. He sculpts them clothed and naked, bejeweled and plain, thin or heavy. He sculpts them fire engine red, bright gold and Yves Klein blue. Most of all, he sculpts them large: A woman’s head may tower six-and-a-half high; a gilded, Rubenesque nude stands nearly nine feet tall atop a cartoonish platform of flowing streams and bursting flowers, a mix of religious and roadside kitsch.

“I like them,” he told The Times, simply—the Woman-as-life-giving-goddess and the earthly, South Indian women who surround him daily: “women of all shapes and sizes —fat, thin, working women. …Fat women are beautiful.”

Reddy’s work clearly references the oversized idols of Hindu and Buddhist temples in places like Nepal. But his art (and his love for women) eschews simple idolatry. His work is categorically postmodern—appropriative, ironic, often humorous. Despite their brashness of size and color, Reddy’s women (usually rendered in fiberglass and polyester-resin) are unnervingly domestic; their bulging eyes—recalling cultic images in Nathadwara or Mathura—convey in this context a reverse devotion that feels unsettling and neurotic.

The women are gorgeous, but exaggerated. They are wide-eyed caricatures that resemble secularized folk art—goddess heads demystified by a pair of sunglasses or a hair scrunchie. They are sensual but jarring, reflecting Reddy’s love, fear and fascination for the female form.

Reddy is unambiguously devoted to his craft. Born in Suryapet, India, he lives and works in the same southeastern state where he was born, in a quiet port city called Visakhapatnam, where he has said he intends to remain He first began showing in the United States in the late 1990s, notably at a 1998 South Asian survey exhibition at the Queens Museum of Art, in New York. But his New York exhibition with Deitch Projects put him on the map in 2001, making him one of the first among a new wave of contemporary Indian artists to draw critical attention in the United States around the turn of the Millennium. More recently, his works have been shown at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (2012) and the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago (2011).

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Works by Ravinder Reddy

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  • Sonal Singh
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