Modern and Contemporary Art from India
February 25, 2011 through September 4, 2011, San Jose Museum of Art
Oil and acrylic on canvas
96 x 180 inches
Private collection
Photo: Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Born 1981, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India
Lives and works in Vadodara (formerly Baroda), India
Economic reforms in the early 1990s further opened India’s markets to the influence and products of other countries.  In Induced Epidemic, Ashutosh Bhardwaj critiqued the rise of the cosmetics industry — a by-product of the liberalization of the Indian economy — in his home country. The hands pursue beauty, which remains just out of reach.  They seek a product that is intended to reshape a person’s nose, specifically to mimic the striking profile of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti1. To Bhardwaj, the crowd represents the desire for consumer goods and a homogenized standard of beauty.  The curtains flanking the stage suggest that the activity is being controlled from behind the scenes by those in power.