Anybody can do it, please do it...


November 29 to December 15, 2019, Dwip Gallery, 1/1, Block D (g floor), Lalmatia, Dhaka

When art is anybody’s game

There are cunning ways to perform an artistic act by paying too much attention to craft, one that an artist has developed over the years. There are also many other ways to arrive at visual solutions, one of which may even involve artist’s complete withdrawal from such craft. Najib Tareque’s exhibition entitled’ Anybody can do it, please do it…’ takes its starting point from a similar strategy. The works he has amassed testify to a series of artistic activity that at once creates scope for rethinking of the picture plain in the light of his enthusiasm for gesture, geometry as well as organic form and most importantly the freedom to abandon the pursuit of a singular style.

Consequenly, multiple styles appear in this exhibition, and they are framed through a multiplicity of compositional matrices.

The title attempts to give an impression that the works in this exhibition are facile. Anyone, according Najib, may easily accomplish what he has done with paint and brush, since the works were all done in a spirit of freedom – freedom from the responsibility to embody the objective world.

But what seems easily accomplishable at first glance soon forces one to rethink as one realise that making art for art sake is also not an easy task. As ‘art beauty’ keeps ‘nature beauty’ at bay, to refer to Adorno’s dichotomy, the artist is able to actually fill the surface with various aesthetically pleasing forms, lines and suggestive brushworks. Yet the works, or the set of works to be exact, that are presented under the title suggestive of facility, do not seem easily replicable. Like the Chinese Zen landscape paintings, which also seem misleadingly facile, Najib’s works too may only mislead one to believe that they can be produced by anyone who would like to match the feat.

However, their strength does not lie in the fact that they are difficult to match by any laypeople. The artistic ‘common sense’ that the exhibition promotes is hinged on spontaneous organising principle, which the artist applied to give rise to some immediate results.

There exists a debate at the some cultural-political circuits that there should be clearly discernible link between the social and the aesthetical. And to emphasise the relationship, once Najib himself used to work in negation of the idea of autonomy of aesthetics. This show simply puts all the issues and entanglements related to ‘social fact’ behind and explores what one may call ‘elemental image making’ while de-emphasising the need for art to be overly intellectual, didactic, or even critical.

— Mustafa Zaman