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Authenticity in an age of technology and propaganda
Kanika Anand  4th Apr 2015

Stills from Firoz Mahmud

xhibit 320's latest show focuses on the figurative language employed by artists to represent a person or action that conjures and manipulates our understanding of past and current history. The gallery presents the works of Dhaka-based Firoz Mahmud and Jaipur-based Nandan Ghiya, in twin solo shows titled Images Attacked.

Mahmud's solo show Ninki: History runs over the Yamuna draws its name from the project Urgency of Proximate Drawing or Ninki: UoPD. It began anonymously in 2008 featuring photographs of popular iconic figures engaged in a typical activity associated with their respective professions. Mahmud's choice of celebrities ranges from those in sport and entertainment to those in politics, highlighting a certain physicality that he then contrasts with drawn lines that tidily compose the performance of their frozen gestures. His work is inspired by both the fluid politics of his country, and the universality of propaganda and controversy. In the tangle of such worldliness, he redefines what it means to be "popular" or ninki, as is it is called in Japanese.

The lines drawn on each photograph act as frames that superficially keep the celebrity from falling or failing, successfully mocking the mechanisms that perpetuate a sense of glamour in an image. Mahmud's employment of satire is especially admirable, considering the ever-growing monster of imposed censorship.

A series of woodcarvings and mixed media drawings debate the ethics of the factual and fictional in the makings of history and in collective memory. Both Drawing Bengal History and Distance of the Past are the artist's current preoccupations that explore different cultures through techniques and materials from the places he has travelled to, predominantly Bangladesh and Japan.Image 2nd

Nandan Ghiya's work is rooted in familial bearings, of growing up in traditional Rajasthan, where ancestral portraits and photographs from family albums adorned the walls of homes. Cosmetically restructured, pixelated or painted over, Ghiya reinterprets ethnographic readings of these images through the device of digital technologies. His solo show, The Blue Screen Series, is a series of portraits populated by screens of monochromatic blue. It's a spatial construct that in my mind echoes opens seas and skies, traversed yet not fully known. It can, in an instant, be overwhelming. Compared to virtual gangrene that mutates history and chronologies therein, Ghiya explores the ways in which our minds are screened from reality. His randomly assembled collections of imperialistic portraits of royals stripped of their power, anonymous as any other in the virtual space, sometimes unrecognisable but for textual labels; convey the inarticulateness of contemporary communication. Ghiya ultimately questions the number and degree of honest associations amidst technologies that keep us perpetually connected.

Nandan Ghiya’s solo show, The Blue Screen Series, is a series of portraits populated by screens of monochromatic blue. It’s a spatial construct that in my mind echoes opens seas and skies, traversed yet not fully known. It can, in an instant, be overwhelming. Ghiya explores the ways in which our minds are screened from reality.

Both Firoz Mahmud and Nandan Ghiya work within the lineage of art and history, exploring the blurred lines between real and imagined, information and propaganda, strength and fragility.

Images Attacked seems a rather ironic title when you think of how much we are attacked by images today.

 
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