Friday, October 29, 2010

Maladroit Adenoidal Terropolitics

"The inclusion of nonsensical sentences in my fusion of the clay and miniature mediums began as a thematic meditation on the space between imagery and words. Words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and clich├ęs create multiple layers and personae, most of which contradict each other, and nearly all of which contradict the work itself. These contradictions speak of contemporary anxieties and desires at a time when the notion of the ‘self’ is unstable and rapidly shifting, much like this paragraph is clearly unstable, and the eyes of the discerning reader are rapidly shifting. This must, then, be an artists’ statement. The notion of ‘statement’, with its’ fuchsia undertones of dictatorship and oppressive body politic, its’ discursive dialectical implications about Islamic identity, is precisely what inspired me to paint these pictures of platypuses."

MSS 2010, Maladroit Adenoidal Terropolitics, Oct 30- 31 at Minaret Art Gallery.

From ‘Belief storm’, Ishma Malik, Random Monthly, Nov 2010:

The Minaret Gallery from its very inception has been striving to showcase innovative and scholarly approaches to art, and the gallery’s current show, ‘Maladroit Adenoidal Terropolitics,’ directly references the yawning, yearning chasm between the two for visual metaphors voicing notions of the here and now.

According to the artist MSS, the exhibition evolved out of a conscious examination of indigenous literary and cultural traditions to discover and build original forms/imagery, as opposed to borrowing and improvising western constructs. “That is why my artists statement was in English”, she said.

Curator Gulbadan Ilyas says she found resonance in the way MSS derived inspiration from the vernacular and the effervescent ethereal elixir of elucidation, and, in a time when the notions of the self (as well as the here and now, and possibly also then) were rapidly shifting, found her interpretation of the irrelevant very relevant.

While the menacing tail in the ‘Overweight Earthworm of Sorrow’ spell the devastating floods – a subtle testament to MSS’s ability to reverse colonize western constructs by implying PK should be added under UK and US on word spell-check options - and the reality of ‘Insert The Obvious Here’ hits right at the heart of Islamabad, it is the intricate ‘Bunny Love’ fridge magnet (simulation) which draws you in. Bordered with a minute metallic fence with details finely etched in fields of gold the work, prosaic at first glance, is quite a twister. As well as quite a fridge magnet.

MSS has inverted the pleasurable sentiments of unnatural splendor by intersecting the personal with the political in what hints of the self-portrait in ‘I Am What You Get When You Take the Fun Out of Fundamental.’ Juxtaposed with the blank canvas of ‘You Take the AAAAR out of Art’ on Minarets wall space, it enunciates the tension between the metaphysical and the metaphorical in the material world as she theoretically plays with the positive and destructive sensibilities the ‘art’ concept can generate in people.

But it is in ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Yakfest’ that the artist moves away from tentative modulations to give a free rein to her flair for fantasy to craft a fictional monstrosity. As an artist, MSS has responded intelligently to this exercise of accessing graphical and painterly descriptions from cultural and literary sources, and then remaking them completely. She was no doubt aided in this by her consistent homage to the three fonts of her primary influence, Sadequain, Miro and Batman.

: Maladroit Adenoidal Terropolitics was inspired by this piece in Newsline magazine. No (significant) disrespect is intended to the writer of the original, and none whatsoever to the artists and curators mentioned in this. I just wished to make the points that what tends to pass for visual art reviews/criticism in Pakistan wouldn’t pass Go in Monopoly, and asking artists to write statements is a bit like asking writers to doodle in the margins of their manuscripts. Surely the point of both is to make the art more rather than less accessible to everyone else?


Anonymous said...

And thus it was commanded, thou shalt not be employed as an art critic till thou'st haveth mastered the art of writing meaningless, pretentious drivel

Umair J said...

^^ harsh.

Anonymous said...

you should also go through art reviews by Newsline's competitor, written by their new darling Taimur Ahmed, who passes of artist profiles as art criticism!

Anonymous said...

This is pitch-perfect parody. I laughed out loud at several parts - and I normally do not LOL on principle. MSS definitely puts the fun back in funtaastic. Hopefully some art criticism practioners will pay heed. If pyala can't stop them, nobody can.

Anonymous said...

Umair: but true :)

Reem Khurshid said...

By the time you mentioned platypuses, my heart was yours. As a visual artist I find artists' statements constricting, and they often lead to two forms of "art criticism" locally. 1)Using it and the artist's CV as the core of one's article with nary a thought of their own, or 2)as a launching pad for their own irrelevant meanderings. Both are obfuscating to the point of discouraging any personal interpretation by the casual or informed observer.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ahmed is a fantastic teacher except that he often comes to his classes in an inebriated state and the irony is he is a professor islamic art and architecture!

Anonymous said...

Of all the stuff done at the Herald, Taimur Ahmed's art reviews and life get talked/commented about here. Lol.

gibran said...

Fancy picking art, eh?

Agreed there are next to none in terms of art critics/reviewists in Pakistan, however Salwat is one of the few who is respected not only in Pakistan but outside it as well.

It goes a lot further than just the artist's statements which are as vague and ambiguous as the art itself at times.

Your critique was really a bad attempt at critiquing a critique.

Lost all respect for Pyala today.