Fresh from the streets of Pakistan
Specialisation: “to concentrate on and become expert in a particular subject or skill”
Its a pretty simple definition but people still get very hypocritical.
Thomas Chambers – a landscape painter, did any one expect anything other than scenery full canvases?
Banksy! THE BANKSY ; Where graffiti meets humorous political and social commentary. Would any one expect him to go around town & spray some meaningless boats & flowers?
The answer to both those questions is No, & if you answered otherwise please stop reading here
Why is it that when it comes to photography the hypocrisy unleashes?! Can someone not be inspired by street photography, influenced by portraits & not face generalisations? Enjoying a ‘camera’s feel’ does not necessarily mean one can be your wedding photographer. I, for one ,may enjoy portraits but those are more candid photographs. Weddings & event photography require a skill I do not possess, just the way Banksy can’t paint boats! We are sorry for our shortcomings ..
Its Time ..
When asked about my inspirations, I instinctively think about my ‘place’ in the world around me. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, much of my early years were spent as the outsider looking in to their world. Over the years, however, as I grew to love and blend into it I became less of an outsider and more a part of it. This didn’t change how I perceived things, but it did make me realize the elements that contributed to producing my art. If I say my Pakistani origins coupled with my Saudi upbringing were the fuel, then ‘time’ was the vehicle that aided my artistic journey.
Hence my ‘repetitive’ pieces of visitors from back home. When a country like Pakistan is so beautiful but capturing it through a lens can be a threat to you & your family, you learn to work with what you have. Maybe I try to relate to them from here in Jeddah, try & add stories to their faces but can I really? A lifetime away from ‘Home’ & having built a new one here, am I in any position to do so? When you look at an art piece, it may not mean anything to you, but once you learn about an artist’s background, all the elements come together.
Lights – Camera ..
I later realised how I’ve turned these candid profiles into unpaid actors. Actors that aren’t aware of their script nor their publishing, leaving me a culprit of identity theft. With my clean intentions, little do they know, without them I would have no art. It was after that epiphany that I sat down & sketched my own characters. No longer wanting to be a culprit I started to sketch down features of someone longing for home ..
It never occurred to me how intense every little curve on a portrait affects the image’s over all mood. Starting with a very vague idea in mind, every stroke made me realise the good & bad of photography. Despite the quick pace of a shutter compared to a pencil’s hundred strokes, a self improvised portrait will always be in your control. Every expression, every wrinkle & every hair strand is an opportunity to add another chapter to his life. Then again, despite it seeming like the ‘easy way out’ photography will always have an extra element of surprise. Candid shots leave no one more startled than the photographers themselves, as the subjects are out of their control.
I thought I was outshining myself, trying to paint a picture of the ‘ideal subject’ to portray my stories until I realised how ignorant I was being. What is art without a soul? Nothing. How can I base a story on a character that I drew up in a couple of hours? What makes me so sure all the wrinkles I put in, best describe the issues he’s going through?
I then fell back to my unpaid actors, except this time I asked them their stories. After snapping numerous shots I sat & had conversations about our home & the problems being faced. It made me realise a face is just a visual image to help register an issue – would it really matter whether it were hand drawn or camera captured?
Thus the most recent addition to my portrait collection; a blend of an already existing photo from Madina & slightly amended features to fit his stories. “Longing for home” was done ..
Photos dated : June 2013
Generalization > Globalization
Technology seems to be running at its own pace, whether that pace is healthy or not is an argument on its own. From a product’s marketing point of view it could be seen as a cultural bridge, allowing for a more global approach to persuasive adverts. What had stared off as “acting local” & “thinking global” has now been rattled. Ways of dealing the cards have changed & WE are to suffer the consequences. Marketing agencies have started “acting global” instead, reciprocating to the insane pace . A pace that could lead to a lot of ‘side effects’ in the long term. Having one target market may benefit you now, however eventually you will be accountable for giving the title of “generalisation” a whole new definition.
Coming to a less commercial product. We may not put up flyers and bargained prices for Art but we’re all aware of how its becoming a “fashioned product”. Those that never showed a passion for the skill have suddenly started making appearances at galleries! In my opinion its just a phase .. either that or I must keep telling myself that until it actually settles in. The reason for my bitterness concerning the topic are as follows. At any opening day of a gallery, its only natural for it to be blooming, however is it blooming for the right reasons? Huddled up in your best shoes in front of the art pieces, making small talk and enjoying the party favours is not part of sharing a passion for art. All that does is leave those that do behind, struggling to get a slight glimpse of the exhibit. Just like any other product, even the hype for art dyes, that is why it’s always better to visit a gallery once everyone is done socialising & giving out cards for PR.
Having a passion for art myself, I’ve learned to work around these recent changes. Without a doubt everyone loves a full gallery & no one more than the artist himself. However what do you do to make sure the visitors at least try & get a look at your pieces while they mingle? That is when you have to play your own little marketing card .. You may not believe in the “fashion” art is becoming, but after all art is meant to be presented & hence trends need to be studied. “Trend” does not necessarily mean ‘come up with the same art as the world’,on the contrary, make YOUR art the “trend”.
What if you didn’t have to study the trend? What if it were so obvious it started to bug you? Repetitive art can be very irritating. Taking the Saudi Art scene as an example, numerous artists have taken simple rituals and traditions & titled them ‘art’. While exploring on this new “cultural bridge” of ours I felt as though the whole “Hijab/Niqab” concept has been too overdone in our art scene. With a keen interest in street photography, it wasn’t until my last trip to Madina that I realised I was being too judgmental. Until I unintentionally snapped the following photos..
Art may be made according to the trends, but what are trends based on?
The current situations.
Whether it be politics or women on the streets; art will always depict what others fail to see, even if it is overdone. As much as we fight the stereotype, this is only the beginning of our suffering to the power given to the term generalisation.
As much as we hate to admit it, an instant sketch of an arab woman will always consist of an “abaya” or a conservative cover. With an emerging art scene like this, can we really blame the artists? I then realised that I too have started to generalise. Even I have started to point fingers & judge based on no rationale. This woman may represent those that fear the art of photography, but what if we take these concepts in our favour & use them to prove otherwise.
What if I was the merchant and she was the photographer?
Would that still make me think of the “Niqab” as overdone?