In the spring of 2019, the Kunsthal Rotterdam will be presenting ‘Trouble in Paradise’, an extraordinary selection of contemporary art works from the private collection of art collector Rattan Chadha (1949, Delhi), the founder of Mexx and the hotel chain citizenM. This private collection – known as the KRC Collection – will be presented at the Kunsthal to a wide audience for the very first time. Rattan Chadha has selected works of art that reflect on human inadequacies, respond to the state of our society and inspire a sense of commitment to the world around us. At the heart of his collection is the human condition, with art that gets under your skin. From sex, drugs and rock ’n roll to deep melancholy and abstraction. In short: ‘Trouble in Paradise’!
‘Trouble in Paradise’ will feature a selection of over seventy works – varying from paintings and sculptures to installations and video art – by internationally renowned artists such as Gilbert&George, Francis Picabia, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marlene Dumas and Jack Whitten. Also represented are many well-known Dutch artists, including Marcel van Eeden, Marc Bijl, Folkert de Jong and Rafaël Rozendaal.
For an art collector, building a collection is a personal journey that is continually evolving. In the 1980s, Rattan Chadha began collecting art by making incidental purchases, but the collection would not reach full maturity until 2000 when he started visiting numerous art fairs, galleries and museums with curator Liesbeth Willems. The art works in ‘Trouble in Paradise’ have been arranged around the themes Soul Searching , Delicious Confusion and Forever Young , referring to the different stages in the development of his art collection. Soul Searching brings together paintings and sculptures that explore the human figure from a somewhat melancholic perspective. 'Portrait of a Woman' (1941) by Francis Picabia, his first acquisition in 2001, is exemplary for this part of the collection. This painting portrays an emotion rather than a woman. The same applies to the work 'Sad Romy’ (2008) by Marlene Dumas, which shows an intensely sad portrait of the famous actress Romy Schneider. It is clear that fame and success do not always lead to happiness. And in an empathetic way, the installation ‘Queen (A Portrait of Madonna)’ (2005) by Candice Breitz illustrates how young people are wasting their youth.
The second theme, Delicious Confusion , shows the human condition from a different perspective. The artworks are becoming more conceptual, more challenging and are more layered with regard to meaning and use of materials. These works of art cause more friction, both on an artistic and on a social level. The work ‘Clous-Mannequins’ (2006) by Thomas Hirschhorn criticises the fashion industry. With the help of ordinary materials such as sticky tape and nails, Hirschhorn demonstrates how models are trapped in a straitjacket. The painting ‘Cold turkey with bonbons’ (1993) by Rita Ackermann show three lazy, adolescent girls. Ackermann has used annoyed brush strokes and lipstick smudges to emphasise the emotional condition of her protagonists. And the traditionally crafted wall hanging ‘The Walthamstow Tapestry’ (2009) by Grayson Perry uses a number of the world’s leading brands varying from IKEA and Marks & Spencer to Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton, to visualise the human circle of life, from birth to death. Inspired by antique batik fabrics from Malaysia and Eastern European folk art, this massive work offers a colourful and complex visual journey through our contemporary consumer landscape.
Over the years, Chadha has become more interested in how artists are incorporating new materials and new media in their work. He selects up-and-coming talent, partly because of the adventure and, in the wake of that, also partly because of the risks involved. The collection has shifted its focus to art by international artists working in a great variety of disciplines and materials. An example of this is the installation ‘Random Fear (with mirrors)’ (2019) by Rafaël Rozendaal, an artist who uses the internet as a universe dominated by a perfectly organised chaos. With the help of colours, shapes and mirrors, Rozendaal will create a site-specific work especially for the exhibition. In her playful and colourful carnivalesque installation ‘Funfairaffair’ (2017), Funda Gül Özcan (1984) has also portrayed a universe that is as yet unknown.