Tuesday, May 7, 2013

His unconventional approach makes Rashid Rana stand out

Rashid Rana’s works are charged with the juxtaposition of exhibitionism and personal anonymity, demonstrating his intention to unsettle cultural realities. He stands out with his unconventional style and subject matter that comes to the fore at ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ show.

His ‘Veil Series’ for instance, uses photography and collage technique. The artist borrows from contemporary Indian cinema and western pornography in order to critique social culture. He has photographed an anonymous figure dressed in a burqa (veil) against a pixelated background. The work is actually a fragmented collage made-up of thousands of small, unfocused pornographic stills of women engaged in sexual intercourse.

In ‘The World is Not Enough’ he creates an impossible image of immense beauty from his personal accumulation of photographs of social waste taken whilst walking through the disheveled streets of central Lahore. Reduced to miniature pixels of information, each detail of the much larger image, of what appears to be the undulating sea, is in fact hundreds of digitally stitched pieces of trash, which act as his pointillist paint-brush. The work on one level appears to represent a notion of ideal beauty. However, it is based on a more troubling examination of increasing urban detritus and decay.

In his Ommatidia series he focuses on Bollywood starts to re-construct their portraits in pixelated form. He reinvents the ‘stardust’ style portraits of Hrithik Roshan, Shahrukh and Salman Khan as pixelated portraits. Their new context appears to deconstruct them of their value - firstly as portraits and then as celebrated people.

Deep within each work the artist composes hundreds of smaller crudely cut portraits of uncountable haphazardly photographed male figures in order to compose a kaleidoscopic portrait of each of these actors. The minute faces gaze at their idols in adulation. He intends to suggest that these cinematic heroes are the invention of the viewing public, investing their own imaginations in the hyper-reality that make up the lives of these icons.

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