Written by Benita Fernando
In June 2008, contemporary artist Nikhil Chopra took on the garb of Sir Raja, a fictional character and landscape painter, and traversed the streets, parks and subways of Manhattan and Brooklyn in a personal attempt to map the city.
Titled Sir Raja III Visits New York City, the performance followed an earlier piece by Chopra at Colaba’s Chatterjee and Lal in 2007, in which he transformed into Yog Raj Chitrakar, a character loosely based on his grandfather. Sir Raja and Yog Raj Chitrakar have since then travelled across continents and the New York performance was part of a strategic gallery exchange between Chatterjee and Lal and Thomas Erben Gallery. For two weeks only, in mid-2008, the galleries switched places across shores, working collaboratively and bringing their artists into each other’s spaces and cities.