Where am I, now.
Gently. I am cutting the cord(s) of Love(s)
These are somewhat poetic musings, riddled, more than anything else – and it seems an accumulation on conversations I have had over the past few days with friends, family, lover(s), colleagues and strangers (who have become friends).
Emancipation is a strong word – it seems I continually seek it, yet never fully embrace it. How bizarre – why choose a masochistic approach? I am often the sadist. My inability to emancipate from religion ( I still have prayer beads in my daily possession ), from cultural traditions ( I am continually embedded back in to family politics ), from unwanted labels that are attached to me, it never seems enough. Embroiled and enamoured, to continually fight against the torrents. Yet, to cut free, in an amusing way, would be reckless. How strange the mind works. To throw my self, into work and art – into becoming ‘independent’, into love, seems tough. Why? What does it mean to ‘be’ ‘free’?
Frantically I seek meaning in the cords that I already have – the labels that are attached to me – the strings that perpetuate my being. It is frantic. It is in discord. It is troubling. It is dramatic. It is real. Yet, these cords keep me afloat, keep me alive. The currents of love, however, seem to pull in ways that propel me to behave somewhat ‘irrationally’.
To start with. BEING, the identity or label has to BE HUMAN – and that must be enough, always – for me. To humanise every aspect of myself – from my homosexuality to my race, class, my religiousness or lack of, my politics, my size, my sex, my masculinity, or my effeminateness – To label myself just that – Human – I have spent a lot of time deconstructing my various selves. I see a problem with continual discord. Yet – for now, am content to love being.
My drawings (random selection below) often are working and reworking of ideas – of perceptions and ways of seeing – it is not clever or innovative – it is true. It just is. Fragmentary, of time and place. Of the self, of objects, of places, of people that I encounter.
My writing, as you are reading – you are able to understand – are often an outpouring of a concentrated series of thought(s).
To Love. Here, I am pondering.. What I have learned in this revisit, to love for me is about trust, vulnerability and emotional honesty – I seek it in my practice of everyday life: However unsuccessfully. I observe and experience it- in my platonic friends, I seek and give it in family, I seek it in my lover(s), in my work and actions, and I return it in abundance OR at the least try, I embrace its role in creating nature, in shaping ideas, in nurturing the soul – it does not mean that I roam around always immersed in it – far from it. Its much easier to receive, to accumulate, and I have learned to continue to give – to expedite Love – not as commodity (as it does not come with a price tag, and is not finite) is a continual process. Karmic. To Love, therefore has a profound meaning for me. To love, is an action that is not muddled in religious consciousness, as duty- in cultural attachments as symbols (or trophies) – or spiritual mysticism, -found in ecstasy, or for me – entangled and riddled with familial guilt. To love, is to be – and to practice such an act, requires for me – an interaction with that part of me that is quietly emboldened by life and its experiences.
WHAT AM I LEARNING?
To acknowledge certain emotions – not at the sake of others. To listen, in order to understand, not to respond and react. To engage again with an aspect of the self that I realise requires continual work. To cut the cord(s) of love(s) in this instance then, is about being ok with the vulnerabilities that love brings with it. It requires a certain working mind – one that is open and honest. Being honest – is tough. Yet, tolerance is a word that I have used over the past few weeks – my conversations have forced a certain way of thinking and being again. How to be tolerant of myself? my thoughts? my ideas? my fantasies? my fears? my emotions (including confronting my own anger, in this instance – something I had seldom seen..)
Is it possible through an embracing of love? To not sexualise or eroticise it, or singularise it – to not be related to one entity – but to to love in its entirety or in its capacity to be more— to not be entangled in obsessive lust, insecurities, in guilt, in over-indulged fantasies or fear.
Of course – articulating my thoughts on the blog are not the same, and perhaps hide my inability to act as well as I would like. The fears and realities will continue to limit me – yet, I try to challenge in my own way. Quite possible that I intellectualise this idea of love too. That is ok. Posibly, learning to accept flaws in me, makes it easier to accept also the flaws in the human being. To love, easily, would be tough. In the constant battle, then, to cut the cord(s) of love(s), I seek to continually emancipate myself from my riddled pasts, in order so that love can emancipate me.
On my to do list of readings has been to read again, the brilliant John Berger who recently passed away. (YouTube Link to John Berger: Art of Looking / PDF version of the book online) – I realise how difficult it is to write a review of my own work – so, bare with me! 🙂
I wanted to reflect and review ‘At Kamalapur’ the current exhibition of portrait drawings at the Gram Bangla, 68 Brick Lane, London.
As the artist whose work is being exhibited, I have struggled to be a little removed from it – to have until now to think about what it means to me to get to part of the process. I recently managed to visit the Picasso exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London- it left me intrigued, perhaps in a way I was not expecting – the image that continues to play on my mind is the one ‘Claude Drawing’ it struck a cord in me – and reminded me of a drawing I did of the children drawing at the station, ‘The site of Drawing’ : a slight deviation, but reflects for me quickly – influences and inspirations that continually reshape the work we do and the meanings we take from them. Time provides, always some scope for critical reflection.
A lot of my occupation within this strand of life, of self exploration as artist in a situated environment has been to force myself to ‘look’, and ‘see’ and ‘hear’ with quite possibly a rudimentary tool set – pencils, paper, charcoals, Chinese ink and sometimes oil pastels. Why these set of tools? because they are simple, they are honest materials to work with in depicting lines, movements, marks, scratches, shades of light and dark onto paper, they allow for abstraction and focus and the potential to re-work until what I draw, connects with what I think am seeing. Its tough.
‘At Kamalapur’ exhibition finally provides an opportunity to hear about how other people – the public- look and see these drawings, removed away from the site of Dhaka’s main station. What is it that the artist wants to present, and in this case – represent? ‘I would wish my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them’. (Lucian Freud)
The curated space, with eight A2 drawings, (2 figures, 6 portraits) framed strongly in black; and the selection of similar drawings provides the potential to have a conversation. I left it to the viewer to imagine what the life of each drawing maybe about. It has led to interesting dialogue.
I did not have any interest in recreating or curating the experiences of being in the station, as such it was not curated to be an immersive experience. As a snapshot of a project spanning now two years, in various shapes and forms, it really simply acts as an introduction for me, to really think about the purpose of art and drawing and also the intent to exhibit. The obsessions of technique, of aesthetic qualities, of proportion is slowly being left to one side- yet, the significance of them not being lost. Perhaps we are not being critical enough – of its intentions, the ethics and mortality, of such ideas. The number of times I have left the space emotionally vulnerable has beguiled me, yet, I go back. Wanting to continually push the ways that I see.
Within this particular drawing process, the abstraction to a white paper space, to limited interference – reduced to the face, to the eyes or sometimes the figure. I continue to question how I look at people and what it means to be. The sitters are people, as much as you and I are, and its that human quality, through the technique of drawing, that I am keen to understand. What does it mean to be a human being? especially on a piece of paper? the question to challenge the potential of the art making process. The drawings are often transitory, of a moment in time of a person’s life. Sometimes, larger than life, often, they still feel romanticised. A failure on my part, perhaps?
However, when work is presented in a restaurant space, in a street filled with so much activity, and madness of culture and consumption, does it work? Or is it that, the romance of the idea – of being lost in such spaces – of having other things to do, despite it being carefully placed? It being the backdrop to a busy canteen of people of eating and chatting? So, how much abstraction and curation is required here? Does the art command itself to be seen? and how will people know? Do I care so much about that? What makes me feel uncomfortable? What prods me to continue on asking and potentially making? Can it be more than emotive? instinctual? The potential to see a truth, an outpouring of love? it is hard to say. Even so, I tried to summarise, the context of presenting these drawings in a space on Brick Lane, in a simple way. In order to allow the viewer to see exactly what it is that I am focused on. Perhaps, I also need to ask others write a review, and a continual conversation to take place – as build up to a potentially larger exhibition and publication.
The exhibition is free to view and runs until 22- January 2017 from 10am – 11pm, daily.
@Gram Bangla, 68 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RL
Frames were made by John Baker, who runs Workshop 53
Photo credits: Enamul Hoque
& Facebook link to more images
Walls were re-painted by amazing help from Salam Jones, Heiner Salomon, Kazi Arefin, Maher Anjum, myself & Shahid bhai.
ABOUT: AT KAMALAPUR
‘At Kamalapur’ is an on-going art project by Ruhul Abdin, and forms as part of a series of portrait drawings of people at the Kamalapur Railway Station, in Bangladesh’s capital, the megacity of Dhaka.
Drawn from life, in conte charcoal and pencil on A2 drawing paper and studies across sketchbooks, the portraits express what the artist sees, and feels at the time. There is a rigour of revisiting the site, and re-drawing the same sitters, if chance permits.
There are very limited conversations, or even time for such an activity with his sitters, and therefore, a lot of the portraits will only be a memory of seeing. Those portraits where conversations have taken place, it is in confidence and in respect to the sitter, to not then expose those stories.
Concentration is the main challenge, and so is the ability to let go of the drawing, when a sitter decides that they do not want to be sitting for the portrait drawing anymore.
It is up to the viewer to imagine what the life of each sitter may be.
Dhaka, it is one of the most dense megacities in the world, with a population of over 17 million people. Kamalapur Station is the largest in the country and the most important terminal for transportation between Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh.
Oitij-jo Collective, a platform for UK’s creative talents of Bengali and the British-Bengali Community ranging from Literature, Art, Design, Fashion and Music. This exhibition is part of Oitij-jo’s up and coming ‘AKHON/Where is Bengal Now?’ festival.
www.oitijjo.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
GRAM BANGLA 68 Brick Lane, E1 6RL
Authentic Bangladeshi fish restaurant speciality fresh water fish from Bangladesh. It is the first restaurant to specifically cater for the need of the Bangladeshi community particularly amongst the young professionals.