Kazi Ghiyasuddin's recent solo
'Self' as artist, separated from 'Other-as-people'
Kazi Ghiyasuddin is an artist of clichéd, texturally defined abstraction. Abstraction as a language hasn't had the chance to evolve out of the eco-culture of Bangladesh, as it has never been perceived as an art form in need of an indigenous face. Most of the artists who pursued abstraction accepted it is an occidental artistic practice fit for world domination.
It has always been perceived and appropriated as an international trend. And in Bangladesh, the interiorization of this language has been primarily the handy work of the generation that emerged in the 1960s consisting of artists who form the apex of Modernism in the country – Mohammed Kibria, Murtaja Baseer, Aminul Islam, Kazi Abdul Baset, et al.
Kazi Ghiyasuddin is one of those artists who seem determined to tread the same path in one's own technical, tactical terms. With his marked synthetic textures he seems like the last outpost where the continuation of that tendency, one which uproots the artist from one's immediate surroundings – the land and its lore – to occupy an exclusively aestheticized location; in his efforts this is firmly asserted. Ghiyasuddin does this using the aesthetics of insularity and in turn ends up becoming a grotesque self-plagiariser through repetition unleashed by his position as a highfalutin naval-gazer. His art, in the last few years, has been anything but a reflection of a reflection.
But one may still raise the question: what is the signifying reality of an artist as an abstractionist who bases his technique solely on the manipulation of the surface? Ghyasuddin's self-constructed reality is a domain where his artistic personae achieves full independence from the society at large.
A binary of reality emerges here: one is social reality identifying the collective lives situated in the socio-politico-economical-cultural complexities (certainly he is not an artist of this reality), and the other is the individual reality which escapes those crucial complexities of the collective lives.
Ghiyas is an artist of the type of reality that never contains the reality of the Other. Therefore, he is an artist of selfish-reality. In art, he paints himself as the SELF excluding the traces of the Other. As a result we may easily conclude that he unpaints the people who are his Other.
Consequently, one can say that Ghiyas's art constitutes a pseudo-sense of 'self' and 'reality'. One may also define him as an outsider in the realm of reality. But, contradictorily, he is an insider in the imitated, appropriated world of abstraction.
Aristotle assigns the word 'abstraction' a specific meaning to explain a process of mental analysis that separates 'form' from 'matter.' However, utterly lacking in the intuitive understanding of aesthetics as well as the politics of non-representative form of art, Ghiyasuddin erroneously proposes textural configuration as form and creates a formalist idiom that has little to do with the purity of form, as he draws his strength from the technique alone.
But, interestingly, he displays little or no energy for diversified use of that technique, fixed as he is on a few presentable effects of textural calibrations which most of his paintings are preoccupied with. It seems like an addiction to a process that he mastered to his heart's content. His orthodoxy rotates around his search for some gestures which hardly ever enable him to say anything significant about the 'artistic act', to which we may be able to assign value.
In his mostly monochromatic canvases, the artist appears as a solitary figure engaged in an act of effacement of all traces of 'exteriority' to create an absolute 'interiority'. As such, solitude, or the sense of alienation has no meaningful part to play in his domain but to affect a mood to ensure a momentary annulment of the real sensory experiences to privilege a visuality that defends the mind against all kinds of interrogations. This political act of producing art in a seemingly apolitical mode is entwined with the capitalist social relations (an inversion of traditional one) and productivity as well as the reflection of a mental state on impasse.
This self-imposed exile from the social domain coupled with the desire for peace, as is expressed in the title of the show, A Pilgrimage for Peace, can be considered a fabrication – an attempt to align oneself with the metropolitan bourgeoisie who constantly crave for 'progress' without being privy to the affects it might have on the society at large.
The word PEACE is a Euro-American state-level construction of no actual value, as it is based primarily on rhetoric. Without resorting to any thesis that might help frame his idea of peace, without giving much thought to the very act of creating an imagery that may connect the artist to the concept he proposes through the title of the show, Ghyasuddin remains trapped in double abstraction. This mental construction called peace, thus, remains aloof of the worldly affairs, and also fails to create an otherworldly ferment, as without reference to the external world, Ghiyasuddin's world expression harps on things that remind us of an artist who is world weary rather than worried about the world.
A Pilgrimage for Peace was presented at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, January 29 - February 11, 2010.