Permindar Kaur Nothing is Fixed

Permindar Kaur, Nothing is Fixed, installation view, John Hansard Gallery, 2024. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Reece Straw

John Hansard Gallery is pleased to present Nothing is Fixed, a keynote exhibition of works and new commissions by Permindar Kaur.

The exhibition transforms John Hansard Gallery’s spaces into immersive installations exploring fundamental issues of identity, home, belonging, care and safety. Kaur’s works feel especially relevant in the current socio-political landscape.

The themes that run through Kaur’s work speak to a wide section of society; people in transit or who migrate to make either temporary or permanent homes. Through these explorations, Kaur connects sculpture to broader societal conversations, making her work accessible and critically relevant.

Nothing is Fixed focuses on the intersectionality of identity; how society, family and education inform unique combinations of discrimination and privilege. Reflected in Kaur’s use of materials, (whilst also building on the influence of Pop Art or contemporary traditions where material challenges the form, e.g., Claus Oldenburg, Eva Hesse, etc) Kaur adds a narrative affected by heritage, while her early interest in artists such as Mike Kelley informs her use of soft materials – with menacing undertones.

In one gallery, works from the series Camouflage (2012-13) cover the walls like wallpaper – the shadowy figures they contain reflect on power and inequality. Hung in a ‘salon’ style, they suggest stately home extravagance, though instead of proud portraits, individual figures hide within the fabric.

Contrastingly, miniaturised representations of everyday furniture and domestic scenes are placed throughout the space, creating multiple levels of questioning and unease. Reflecting her career long interest in the home, Untitled Bed (2020) and Tall Chairs (1996) provide further uncomfortable domestic contexts.

In the gallery’s tallest space, with its large glass windows looking over Southampton’s Guildhall Square beyond, Kaur explores an outdoor aspect of a particular domesticity, hunting. This new commission dominates the space. An exaggerated and oversized tall hunting chair towers within the gallery, facing out and looking across the public square beyond. Contrasts between interior and exterior, playfulness and menace again create an interrogating unease. This major new sculptural piece, alongside the Camouflage works provokes more unease, who is hunting? Who is hiding?

Hiding is also evident in the new installation of Ten Teddies (2017) for John Hansard Gallery; the first time they are located within a black space, is this a bad dream or personal trauma?

Kaur’s exhibition coincides with Southampton’s Mela Festival, where she’s extending her work beyond John Hansard Gallery into the public domain. During Spring/Summer, Kaur will co-create family workshops and events as part of the project Co-Creating Public Space to form meeting points between community interests and artist’s work. The result will be the development of co-created public sculptures with local artists and audiences that will launch at the Mela Festival in July 2024.

Permindar Kaur‘s (b. Nottingham 1965) artistic practice extends over more than three decades during which time she has become one of Britain’s most innovative artists.  Known as much for her deft manipulation of materials including glass, metal, and fabric, as for her evocative exploration of home, childhood, memory and cultural identity, Kaur’s practice defies easy categorisation. With its fastidious regard for scale and form, Kaur’s work is both alluring and contemplative (Biography by Richard Hylton).

Nothing is Fixed is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Jhaveri Contemporary. Permindar Kaur is represented by theartistsagency.

Co-Creating Public Space is led by John Hansard Gallery, with funding from Arts Council England, Southampton City Council, GO! Southampton and University of Southampton.

Download the Exhibition Guide here.


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