Detail of "Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing IX," 2009. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Benoit Pailley.
Nikhil Chopra combines approaches associated with theater, portraiture, landscape drawing, photography, art actions, and installation to chronicle the world through live performance. As the Victorian draughtsman Yog Raj Chitrakar, Chopra haunts bustling market squares, forgotten old buildings, city streets, and museum galleries to make large-scale drawings. Within the performances, daily actions—washing, eating, drinking, sleeping, dressing, shaving, and observing—are transformed into ritualistic spectacle. While an ambiguous past collides with an unstable present, Yog Raj Chitrakar reveals the process of documenting what he sees while exploring self-portraiture, autobiography, history, fantasy, and sexuality.
“Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing IX” is inspired by the 1920s and New York City’s role in that defining moment in the history of the world – a time of deep physical, imagined, and sociological changes impacted by immigration, architecture, and labor, caught between two world wars. As the character Yog Raj Chitrakar, the artist activates the gallery, transformed into a turn-of the-century tableau vivant, for five days (November 4–8). Searching at the edge of the Atlantic, the wanderer/draughtsman/mapmaker also travels through Chinatown and Lower Manhattan, imagining America, and eventually chronicling New York City from the vantage point of Ellis Island. During the performance at the New Museum, the exhibition is in perpetual transformation. At its conclusion, remnants of Chopra’s occupation of the space remain on display as an installation. Documentation from three previous performances also on view in this exhibition—Memory Drawing II (Mumbai, 2007), Yog Raj Chitrakar visits Lal Chowk (Srinagar, 2007), and Memory Drawing VI (London, 2008)—suggests the many ways in which the history and reality of a location impact the artist’s execution of characters though costuming, gesture, and action.
“Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing IX” is curated by Eungie Joo, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs
Costume design by Loise Braganza
Special thanks to Housing Works