Engaged with the shared environmental and ethical concerns of a new generation, Atul Bhalla is a conceptual artist who examines this new generation’s relationship to water and its cultural meaning. Concerned with issues of relentless urbanization, he examines how historical as well as colonial and post-colonial urban planning and administrative policies, or lack thereof, define the manner in which the city meets water. His practice engages with many of its physical, emotive, historical, cultural, religious and political manifestations. He further participates in the politics of water by subtly juxtaposing these manifestations with the significance of water as an essential human right. As such, Bhalla’s works are universally pertinent. They have an individual as well as collective meaning. They address issues of contemporary needs versus consequent roles of natural, cultural, or built heritage and may be used to decode the contemporary landscape in India by tracing many social constructions and discourses.
While Bhalla applies photography as a conceptual framework for most of his works, he is best known for his performative photography. What is most significant in his technique is that he renders his works definitively intimate to the viewer by using himself in order to incorporate the experiential. He constructs narratives of direct experiences through sequential series using multiple images.
Atul Bhalla has been exhibiting his works in India and internationally since 1989. His key group participations held recently include Fourth Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (2009); India Moderna curated by Juan Guardiola, IVAM Institute of Modern Art, Valencia, Spain (2008); Video Zone-4 curated by Sergio Edelsztein and Rotem Ruff, 4th International Video Art Biennial, Israel (2008); Where In World? Devi Art Foudation, Gurgaon, India (2008); Creative Emergencies curated by Maria Livia Brunelli and Silvia Cirelli, Mar Museo D’ Arte Della Citta Di Ravenna, Italy (2008); Still Moving Image curated by Deeksha Nath, Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India; Course, Sepia International, New York, USA (2008); Relocating Masculinities, School of Art and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (2007); Public Places / Private Spaces –Contemporary Indian Photography & Video, Newark Museum, New Jersey, USA (2007); Watching Me Watching India, Fotographie Forum Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany (2006); and Self X Social curated by Geeta Kapur, School of Art and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (2005).
His significant monographic exhibitions include …In Another Sweat, held at Project 88, Mumbai, and Anant Art Centre New Delhi, India (2009); Within / Without, AICON Gallery, London, UK (2008); Remarking The River, Project 88, Mumbai, and Anant Art Centre New Delhi, India (2007). Two important upcoming exhibitions scheduled for 2010 include Water, special exhibition at Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, USA (Sept 2010 – Jan 2011) and A Monumental Tour, curated by Cho Seong Ryong at the Coreana Art Museum, Seoul , Korea (Jul – Aug 2010).
Bhalla has been invited to participate in the Public Art projects, such as, Soil Bite, Workshop In Patna, Bihar, KHOJ,International Artists Association (KHOJ – Bihar) (2009); Prohelvetia – Swiss Council International Artists Residency – IAAB Studios, Basel, Switzerland (2009); 480C Public–Ecology-Art – International Public Art Project curated by Pooja Sood, Goethe Institut, New Delhi (2008); Eco+Art, River Yamuna based Residency, KHOJ-International Artists Association, New Delhi, India (2007); and Dilli Dur Ast, Old Delhi based Residency, KHOJ-International Artists Association, New Delhi, India (2006).
Born in 1964, Atul Bhalla received his M.F.A from School of Art, Northern Illinois University , USA and his B.F.A. from College of Art, Delhi University, New Delhi. He lives and works in New Delhi.