Monday, September 6, 2010

Freezing at a Frost Moment of ‘The Road Taken’

(Work by Fawad Khan, Gouche on Paper)

At times, as an art critic, I too face certain ethical dilemmas; let me make it a bit clearer. This ethical dilemma is absolutely professional. You see a work of art by a close friend of yours and you find that it has got stronger visual and aesthetical affinities with the works of some other artist/s. What do you do then? Would you encourage the artist to go on with his works or politely tell him that this work does not have any difference from the other work that you cite from history?

I do the latter. And I am lucky to have artist friends who are not offended by such observations.

(Work by Fawad Khan)

Now, you go to a gallery where you have certain professional relationship with the directors, and you really care for and respect each other. The gallery presents a show before you with a lot of pride. They believe in what they present. But you, both as an art critic and art lover find the works not so interesting and inspiring.

You try to reason with yourself. May be it is very subjective that you are not responding to the works. In fact the works are really good and it is your problem that you don’t understand. Better leave the show alone. Don’t comment on it.

(work by Fawad Khan)

Then comes the ethical dilemma. You are that kind of an art critic who claims to have gained fame as someone who does not mince words when it comes to art. You can either ignore a show or make some critical observations. Neglecting a show is a sort of arrogance as any show demands a serious viewing by an art critic, whereas critiquing it could result into hurting of feelings if not roughing up of a few feathers at least.

(Work by Fawad Khan)

So, my dear reader, I am presenting my ethical dilemma before you. I have been writing and informing you of art for so many years. Today it is your turn to tell me what do you think about these works vis-à-vis the ones that I show you along with the primary set.

The show in question is ‘The Road Taken’ by Fawad Khan at Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi.

(Work by Fawad Khan)

Fawad Khan was born to a Pakistani family in the war torn Libya. Currently he lives and works in New York. Fawad Khan uses the images of cars, trucks and camouflages in order to exemplify a world that is terrorized by money, power and technology.

(Work by Fawad Khan)

I am convinced till that. But then suddenly I remember the works of Andy Warhol.

(Work by Andy Warhol- from the Car Crash series)

(Andy Warhol)

(Fawad Khan)

(Andy Warhol)

Then I remember the works of Desmond Lazaro, who uses images of vehicles.

(Work by Desmond Lazaro)

(Desmond Lazaro)

(Desmond Lazaro)

Then again, I remember the works of Shivanand Basawanthappa.

(work by Shivanand Basawanthappa)

(Shivanand Basawanthappa)

(Shivananda Baswanthappa)

Fawad Khan’s context is different. Perhaps, imagery too.

But why I fail to take off from my memories connected to the images of vehicles? Why Fawad’s works don’t take me to a different plane? Is it because I am a not-so-confused desi in our desi land?

My venerated reader, I leave it to you. Guide me to light.


somudesai said...

Johny the world is so big and look at the total population of the world. it is said that there are at list 7 people having same kind of faces in different part of the world. so i believe that there must be many people knowingly unknowingly having same kind of mind set and mantel process, and it is natural.
i will give you an example of my own experience.
before last 2 weeks i was in Delhi enjoying a project of my artist friend Manjunath Kamat. it was an wounderfull experience seeing Manjunath using gallery wall as his sketchbook and doing spontaneous drawing on gallery walls, consciously and unconsciously. i enjoyed good time witnessing it. fare enough.
when i was back to my studio one fine day my friend, artist from Sweden Ossian Theselius me an information of a Brazilian artist Blu. when i visit his link i was shock to see the work of artist Blu. so immediate i massage this link to Manjunath. seeing this link Manjunath kamat happily called me and said Somu thanks for passing this information. as he was seeing an artist work how has same kind of mantel process. and not only that Manju told me that he is seeing something that he wants to do.
i was so happy to see Manjunath enjoying an work of an artist who has same kind of process. my respect toward Manjunath has grown much higher on his broad mentality.
so there will be somebody somewhere doing something exactly like you or maybe much batter then you, but why to fight with it? and try to change something in what you r doing.
if an artist is having honest process in his work then he/her does not have to think if his work is alike another artist.
Somu Desai

megha joshi said...

jml, i must admit that i read the facebook comments first - and wondered what had caused the passionate reactions...i don't get what the fuss is about! you have taken a personal/individual tone from the begining of the article to the very end - no sweeping statements and no allegations, just wondered what is missing that is leaving you unmoved - with references of works that spring to your mind which had similar imagery - fair enough i think!
the reactions do bring about an interesting topic of discussion - one of similarities and originality in artists /artworks...i keep thinking of eliot's 'tradition and the individual talent' here...

p.s. i would be unhappy if it was my show and i quite like the images i see here :-)

JohnyML said...

@ Megha, Thank you very much for commenting. You are right. I was talking only about my dilemma. And I was trying to explain it with a few images. Good. I never said Fawad's works are bad.

@ Gopika Nath, Thanks Gopika, you must be remembering how I responded to your blog post where you brought Shilpa and Nilima together for a discussion. My post was not a similar attempt. I was thinking aloud why I was not able to go out of those set of works which are already in my mind..Anyway...Good that we are discussing. Once again thanks for your response....


LotusEater said...

"world that is terrorized by money, power and technology"

If that is the point of departure for viewing the works, i have to agree with Gopika; The works are weak - almost a WTF moment! And the very idea, a logical fallacy in itself.

Aesthetically i have no problem with the works though. Except that one wonders the compulsions that seduced the artist to use images of automobiles that were contemporary in the sixties,i.e. Warhol used images that were contemporary to his world, what stopped FK from using the new Beetle, or a Mercedes 500 SL 2010 edition in his works? That i feel constrained my engagement with his works above its current level. The references are ok with me, but not 'contemporarising' the images precludes it from being seen as a sign of OUR times. But again, that is the baggage i have to personally deal while viewing this work.


GBS once said ( about drama critics) "A critic is one who leaves no turn unstoned"
Just go for it bro, Bash on Regardless!!

JohnyML said...

My dear Lotus Eater,

I loved that one...I too wish that I don't leave any turn 'unstoned'! I wish I could bring all those Shavian witticism into my writing.

At times I feel that critics are like GBS, who stand on a soap box in the middle of Hyde Park and speak to the world about eternity.

Good to speak to you....


Fawad said...

Quick note from the artist's studio:

"world that is terrorized by money, power and technology" are not words linked to this show, the artist's statement nor the press release. This is an opinion of the blogger.

Please read here for the description/point of departure for the works:

Otherwise very much like the blog, keep up the good work. Best regards.