Amar Kanwar - Exile

Hors Les Murs From 24.04.2019 to 15.09.2019

© Amar Kanwar © Christian Kain / Louis Vuitton

Espace Louis Vuitton München
Maximilianstrasse 2a
80539 München
+49 89 55 89 38 100,
Monday–Friday : 12p.m.–7 pm; Saturday: 10 am–7 pm

The Fondation Louis Vuitton “Hors-les-murs” program invites you to join Amar Kanwar at The Espace Louis Vuitton München.

Experience two films from the Collection, alongside a recent installation selected by the artist himself, Letter 5 (2017). Representative of Kanwar’s complete body of work, these works operate at the interface between art, documentation and activism.

Born in 1964, Amar Kanwar is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in New Delhi, India. His oeuvre, deeply marked by the history of his country, shows multiple influences ranging from 15th and 16th century Indian poetry to the works of Russian director Andrei Tarkovski. His work is a constant quest to understand the troubled times we live in and to research the diversity of narrative structures used on the Indian subcontinent. The results of this practice are disturbingly contemplative works – poetic documentaries – which examine nationalism, politics, violence, and social performance through video and sound installations. Kanwar invites the viewer on a potent personal experience and aspires to incite new generations of artists to rethink the social consequences of their works.

Kanwar’s films are complex contemporary narratives that connect intimate personal spheres of existence to larger social political processes. Henningsvaer (2006) exemplifies this – a filmic interpretation of separation and exile. Mixing historical footage, personal testimony and lyrical cinematography, Kanwar creates a multi-layered film installation connecting intimate personal histories with the wider politics of power and justice. A contrastingly shorter film, A Love Story (2010) is a poetic documentary set on the fringe of an expanding Indian city, addressing conditions of conflict through the combination of poetic sensibility and political consciousness.

The artist

Amar Kanwar

Amar Kanwar is a filmmaker whose works are complex contemporary narratives that connect intimate personal spheres to larger social and political processes. Merging art, documentation and activism, Kanwar’s films are political and poetic, lyrical, rhythmic, complexly edited or captured in lengthy sequence shots, ultimately restoring the intricacy of a story. 

Personal experience carries an immense weight in Kanwar’s films. During the 1947 partition of India, both his parents were forced to flee Punjab, a region divided between India and Pakistan. In 1984 Kanwar was a history student at Delhi University when the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi occurred, leading to a wave of violence where thousands of people were killed. A few months later there was a gas explosion in a Bhopal factory which killed over 2000 people. These horrific and poignant events that Kanwar and his family experienced have since become sources of reflection throughout his oeuvre – a form of commitment to civic causes through expression.

His works have been exhibited around the world, most recently in 2018 with solo exhibitions held at the LUMA Foundation, Arles, France; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota, USA; the Tate Modern, London, UK; the Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden, and at Photo Kathmandu, Nepal. Other exhibitions have been held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2007); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2008); the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich, Switzerland (2012); Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria (2013); the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK (2013); the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, USA (2013); the Assam State Museum, India (2015); the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai, India (2015-16); and the Frac des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France (2016). Kanwar’s work has also appeared in several documenta exhibitions (2002, 2007, 2013 and 2017). Kanwar has received numerous awards, including the Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art, Norway (2005), the Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change (2014) and the Netherland’s Prince Claus Award for ground-breaking work in the field of culture and development (2017). He currently lives and works in New Delhi, India.