The Chatterjee & Lal stand at Frieze Focus proposes two distinct approaches to performance-based work, both using family as the building blocks for work that, ultimately, is universal in its reach and appeal. In the case of Nikhil Chopra this takes the form of the residues of performance by way of costumes, props, photography and video. Hetain Patel’s works function as carefully constructed performative photography and video works. In both cases the artists own bodies are used as the site at which individual family histories, past and present, converge. This brings into relief the legacies of colonialism and Britain’s historical relationship with India.
Nikhil Chopra’s performance series Yog Raj Chitrakar (2007 onwards) are loosely based on the character of his grandfather, a landscape artist living in Kashmir during the early 20th Century. His performances use the act of drawing as an access point, in the same way that Patel’s works include the act of drawing directly onto the body of his wife as suggesting the extent to which family impacts the individual.
Nikhil Chopra’s characters look out from India to Britain through the lens of colonialism, whilst Hetain Patel uses the performative mode to stare back at India using the post-colonial experience as his reference point. The work of both artists often uses the medium of performance to think about their place in the world and how this has been shaped by national histories played out at the family level.