Apposite | Opposite, the title of Rashid Rana’s exhibition encapsulates his preoccupation with duality in his art practice. The Pakistani artist is known for creating photo-mosaics composed of hundreds of unique images. The startling relationship between the whole picture and its fragments first brought Rana’s work to attention, and this formal device continues to define the work showcased in his new show, which is on display at Chatterjee & Lal as well as Chemould Prescott Road. “I believe that we live in a world that is divided between many halves,” Rana told Time Out in an email interview. “The division between the developed world and developing nations, the political centre and its periphery, reality and its representation through media are indispensible truths, which one must recognise and relate to. My work is an attempt to re-construct that aspect of duality, with an aesthetic that recalls the bifurcations of our contemporary world.”
Desperately Seeking Paradise II (2007-2011) exemplifies Rana’s signature approach, which aims to be universal as well as local. The photographic print, made on a stainless steel cube, resembles the skyline of a Western city but on closer inspection is revealed to be made up of pictures of homes in Lahore. Older concerns about urban life, media, terrorism and globalisation continue to inform Rana’s work, but Apposite | Opposite isn’t just more of the old. There is also an extension of Rana’s use of the tussle between the macro picture and its micro components into more abstract prints, video works and photo sculptures. He utilises his photomosaic style in two video works, titled Anatomy Lessons, in which the each of the individual images don’t remain static as in the photographic prints, but are individual moving tiles.
The Language Series appears like an abstract canvas, with parts of it turning into figuration. The larger picture dissolves into an unrecognisable tapestry of pictures of nameplates from Lahore. “Language is the most abstract invention of mankind, but in these works, I tried to focus on how the language is used in our part of the world,” Rana said. “In most cities and towns of Pakistan, signboards of shop are often in English, but written in Arabic script; or if the name is in Urdu, Roman script is preferred.”
Rana veers towards formal experimentation in his photosculptures, which are meant to resemble daily objects such as books, newspapers, a courier package, a fridge and a television set. Each of these box-like structures is covered in pixellated prints. “In my previous works, there was a distinction and difference between micro and macro images, a technique that was important to draw one’s attention toward our system of life which survives on amalgamations of contradictions,” said Rana. “But in these new object-based works, the apparent paradox has been moved aside to focus on the similarity in an object and its representation.”
By Zeenat Nagree on April 13 2012 9.26am