Archive for April, 2011
‘Simple ideas are manipulated by convenient interpretations to mean different things to different people.’ says Fahad Moti Khan on his Facebook album Aks (Reflection).
April 17 was the last day of Fahad’s exhibition. I was in a rush as I was leaving town that afternoon. I left my last night’s rain dirty car with the usher and rushed to the durban at the Hotel Taj Palace, ‘Tea lounge?’
‘Straight,’ he said, pointing inwards the hotel.
I walked on, straight, to images that reached my heart. I asked a photographer friend, ‘Are these images photoshopped?’
She said, ‘Maybe for saturation, else they are really Fahad’s perspectives. His way of looking at things.’
I looked at the pictures, took a round around the lounge, pausing a while in front of each one, noticing that they spoke to me not only from within the frames but from someplace around them. Fahad’s pictures are not only about the blurs and sharpness he creates, fantastic locales he can shoot and dress up. His pictures are about perspectives. His subjects are ordinary, too ordinary perhaps, auto rickshaws and motorcycles, walls and windows, humans, but in them he sees an inherent beauty of form and meaning, and that is what he portrays. He does not need Photoshop, he has his eyes.
For instance the picture of the Zebra Crossing. To the trained eye it could take a while to realise that it is nothing but a close up of white bands on a wet road with the reflection of someone with maybe a walkie talkie. To me it showed the sometimes difficult to unravel layers of security in a phobic society. The picture that Fahad uses as his display on the invite: of two human beings, of which he has taken one, reflected on a grey watery road. Disproportionate legs, reflection broken by a crease on the road. Long legs, for they are the most important limb: moving on, despite all, walking. Same for his other walking pieces. The one in front of an old dilapidated wall whose only ornaments are the jumbled electric wires, and sky scrapers that sandwich trees amidst them. Which are older? The glass steel buildings or the trees? Which will stay on in the future? He does not provide answers; he does not pick ordinary consolations. It rains in most of his pictures, the rain drowns the sound. When you see the visuals in silent haze he makes you think: what? In that question Fahad draws you to an original premise of art. It makes you not just accept but question the reality of being, within and without.
The motorcycle in water. Really a horse, a medieval mode of travel. Its handle bar turned, it looking away from you, a powerful life form, wishing you to placate it for it knows that it is he who takes you places, not you who drive him. The pictures of auto rickshaws. A low shot from behind an auto rickshaw with a vast expanse of a wet sky and a huge splash covering most of the frame. How low into the ground did he sink to get this picture? From that angle a simple mode of conveyance takes on the form of a chariot but diminished by nature’s pristine blue sky and blurred by the cityscape. The picture with just the front suspended mid-field. Apart from it being extremely striking, a side angle of the auto rickshaw front on one side of the frame, alive with its yellow colours. It stands as a reminder that our journeys are mostly without bodies, incessant thinking, vichara, not wholesome. In a sort of parody he has a picture of a human head with salt pepper hair, with glasses perched on top placed in the middle of his exhibition. In ordinary size that picture may just seem humourous, but blown up, in the centre of the lounge, almost the first picture you pick on when you enter, it stands for the gentle irony in Fahad’s perspective, an excellent device in the hand of an artist.
My favourite is the Books in Shelves. Placed uneven, with dark gaping holes in the middle. So many degrees of projections and yet they enclose darkness. The three titles one can see are: a very faint Freedom at Midnight (the fiction India’s recent history), a calligraphic, hard to decode Indian Essentials, and an inversely stacked Trickster City (the book of short stories by a set of unknown citizens, for an urban living programme by Sehar, CSDS).
Fahad’s exhibition was called Urban Imprints. Through these pictures Fahad shows us how he sees the city from his unique perspective. How he frames his impressions. Yet, if we stretch ourselves a little it can be our perspective too. That is what good art is about: unblinkered eyes that have new ways looking at the old, find and hint at new meanings. Good job Fahad! Go on, show us more, and please get your website ready While we wait for his website here is a link with some pictures and excellent commentry.