19th june 2k16, Zarina xoxox

So, i’ve never really written about two shows in the same review. i’m trying something new. I don’t want this to be like a compare and contrast, this isn’t because both the artists are south asian either. there’s just something in my mind that makes them sit nicely in relation to each other. 

Imran Qureshi in the Barbican curve space, and Bhupen Khakhar @ Tate modern. here we go.

I’ve been painting at the moment. it’s new, Painting is like a whole separate little world from videos or installation, it has its own language and it’s own rationale and history, and i think before that used to scare me. i didn’t want to paint because it felt like an exclusive lil club that i didn’t know the password to get into. there wasn’t a how-to guide, and i was too rigidly focused on how i thought it operated to actually realise that as with all things art related: it operates the way you want it to. You’re always able to re-adjust parameters and conversations and do things on your own terms. (I’m feeling optimistic today, so I think this is true. ask me next week and i might not be so keen to agree with myself here.) But i find that as i paint, i become privy to the beauty or the charms of other paintings. i’m just very caught up at the moment in the romance of painting. i like the quality of paint, you know that like opaque//matte-ness it can sometimes have? i like the way it looks like it might feel, i think? (as i’m writing this, i feel naive and basic, but i don’t really care.)

these two shows sit well together for me, because i have also been caught up at the moment with the idea of flatness. for me, flatness in paintings feels like a very indian peculiarity. When you look at things like the Kalighat paintings and m f hussain’s body of work, even like super old stuff, like mughal miniatures; there’s a happiness in the flatness of it all. Perspective, from my perspective, was a european invention. i don’t think it’s reductive to say that painting in the south asian subcontinent hasn’t really dealt with perspective. for me, that’s not a great loss; we haven’t suffered the oppressive rigidity of having to assume the viewer understands the whole thing, that a painting is a window and we are looking into an-other space and it’s framed and all that. painting feels looser, more comfortable, less confined. it’s like we’ve got the same belt on, but a few holes looser, so there’s room to breathe and sit down without it cutting into you. and while at times, that feels like a drawback that the european world uses to look at painting traditions in the subcontinent as lesser (less developed, less academic/intellectually wholesome, less critically or theoretically of value), i’ve begun to see it as an advantage. painting hasn’t had to assume a complicity in their agenda, or their rationale, or a fluency in their visual dialect. you don’t have to have a BAFA to understand them, because i feel like they’re more open to you and yours. 

when i looked at the paintings in the Khakhar show, they didn’t answer me back with attitude, they just replied with a “…. maybe ????” they were more comfortable being Narrative in a completely obscure/undecipherable, and at the same time, wholly explicit way. they put everything on the table, but not in a patronising “let me explain this to u baccha, sit down it won’t be long” kind of way. it was more like they emptied their pockets and i had a nosy around. i wasn’t bored by the labour of trying to decipher them. it didn’t feel too taxing, i didn’t feel left out. i could do it, because they were ultimately, just paintings (again, that’s not reductive). they weren’t aware of the fact they were paintings. they just were. It was such a nice, happy experience. i looked at them and they didn’t stare back at me with contempt or anything. they didn’t really care if i was there, if anything. 

the Qureshi show, i found so curious. it was definitely theatrical, like, all blood splatters and low spotlights and tiny teeny little frames. Sometimes i hate little frames, i find them grotesque, having to peer in like a fucking pervert at a peep show. but these were nice. they felt comfortable in their smallness. they drew me in with their smallness. i found i looked harder and with more focus. the paintings themselves felt very well pitched too. i tweeted that they were like a well-balanced meal, but really i mean they had that same quality that looking at and eating a gourmet meal must have. they were spacious and light and well-well-balanced and considered in a way that made me think everything everything was deliberate all the little lines all the little blobs and the little splatters. It was well staged just like a gourmet meal like on Chef’s table. the paintings themselves tbh were all kinda samey, but in a nice familiar way. my tutor once said that he wished he was a dancer, or a musician in an orchestra, or that art was kinda like that. because dancers rehearse their dance, and if something didn’t quite fit or felt awkward or clunky, they go “ok, once again from the top” and they do it again, just slightly differently and hopefully better and less clunky this time. they didn’t feel repetitive, just like something was being worked on or through. like fine-tuning without a definite end point. it was a fresh break i think. it felt cathartic, and i’m very into that at the moment. 

the work in both shows felt kinda similar, the same feeling of a looser belt. still a belt, just done up more comfortably, less painfully tight. it was nice, and i’ve said that a lot in this review, and i don’t mean it reductively. i just mean it was an experience i enjoyed. i enjoyed looking at the paintings in both these shows. i enjoyed being in the gallery. at the khakhar show i went round twice because i wanted to properly soak it in and enjoy it properly. neither of them felt tasking or like i was doing work, but they weren’t unchallenging or patronising. it was just a looser belt.

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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