Identical Views II
digital chromogenic print mounted on diasec
30 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. (78.1 x 78.1 cm.)
Executed in 2004; number four from an edition of ten
Bombay Art Gallery, Mumbai
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008
Rashid Rana, Identical Views, exhibition catalogue, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 47-48 (another edition illustrated)
New Delhi, Nature Morte, Rashid Rana, Identical Views, 10-31 July, 2004 (another from the edition)
Mumbai, Chatterjee & Lal, Rashid Rana, Identical Views, 12-26 February, 2005 (another from the edition)
New York, Bose Pacia, Rashid Rana, Identical Views, 19 July - 20 August, 2005 (another from the edition)

Brought to you by

Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

For the past 20 years, Rashid Rana has been at the vanguard of contemporary art in Pakistan. Rana graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 1992, before moving to the United States to study at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Early in his career, he left behind traditional painting processes for works that experimented with photographic-prints. His works involving the fragmentation and rearranging of everyday images were revolutionary, gaining him acclaim in South Asia and internationally.

Rana’s composite images are constructed using photographs of urban scenes, faces of ordinary people, and, as in the present lot, self-portraits as individual pixels to create a larger work that both relates to them and transcends them. In his Identical Views series, he can be seen in a reel of photographs, changing his clothes from western attire to a more traditional kurta-pyjama. Through this narrative that runs across the entirety of the composition like a stack of film strips, Rana addresses complex questions of tradition, modernity and gender. Speaking about his work, Rana says, “My subject is about the male experience. I feel that itis important to be aware of the era and region the work of art belongs to. It is also significant to know about the gender of is producer in order to read it honestly” (Artist statement, A. Madani, Rashid Rana: Identical Views, New Delhi, 2004, p. 41).

Rana’s composite image, in which he plays both artist and subject, lies at the intersection of performance and photography. Repeating the same action over and over in different clothing, he explores the experience of living in a society that is modern, postcolonial and medieval – all at the same instant. These contradictions of rapidly shifting societal conditions form one of the central concerns of Rana’s work.

Another important aspect of Rana’s practice is his use of the mirror image. He explains, “Today, every image and idea (whether ancient or contemporary and media generated) encompasses its opposite within itself. Thus we live in a state of duality. The perpetual paradox, which reigns in the outside world, is a feature for the internal self also. Thus all over moves are made not in one upward direction, but in two opposite ones – simultaneously. This internal conflict, which translates formally into my work through mirror images, symmetry and the grid/matrix, underlies and pervades nearly every topic I choose to explore” (Artist statement, Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, New York, 2009, p. 118). The composition of the present lot is divided into two mirrored halves. It is only upon a closer look that one can notice minor dissimilarities between the two sides. Through these incongruent details, Rana presents the impossibility of true symmetry, negating the notion of one absolute truth in favor of multiple perceptible realities.

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