I call this ‘MONSOON BLOOM’

Because rain makes everything bloom 

Acrylic on canvas 14 " x 14 "

I call this ‘AFTER THE RAIN’
Because the light that passes through flowers, leaves and branches after it has rained has been washed of dust and all impurities making it the cleanest expression of light that our eyes can behold

Acrylic on canvas
32 " x 45 "

Dhiraj Singh | 21 Aug 2019

THOSE IN THE MARKET sometimes forget that the goods are a means and not an end. The end is feeling. Of happiness, of satisfaction, or even of keeping-up with the Joneses. In the art world goods and feelings converge in many strange and counter-intuitive ways. A work of art is a work of art only if it makes you feel something, anything. Most of us creating a painting or an object aren’t thinking of how much it will fetch. We are thinking of how to give physical materials the reality of human engagement. So that it speaks to people far, far removed from us and our time. A work of art needn’t always be touchable and feelable. It can also be a virtual idea that stays locked up inside our computers. Yet being that it manages to engage us in ways that are novel and have no recallable precedent. Most people will have trouble wrapping their heads around this, but the fact is that artists are looking at solving deep problems of humanity. And that the act of creating things—paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations—is incidental.

The past couple of months the Internet has been breaking over a work of art. Usually art enters the mainstream of Internet conversations only when auction prices hit a record high. Or an invisible Banksy destroys his own artwork during its auction. This work had none of these qualities. In fact, it was farthest from anything even remotely suspected of being arty. The artist in question is called ‘Bill Posters’. If you Google him, you will come across a flurry of pictures of wall-notices saying, ‘Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted’. These notices, common in the UK, are aimed at discouraging sly vandals and cheap advertisers from claiming their walls. So, we know that Bill Posters is probably a pseudonym for an artist or a collective of artists who like to indulge in “brandalism” and “subvertising” or in simpler words vandalizing brands and subverting advertising.

The work first appeared on Bill Posters Instagram page as a seemingly innocuous video of Mark Zuckerberg. However what Zuckerberg was saying was anything but innocuous. The video went viral. Even news channels began to show it asking questions that the video implied by its very existence. In the video Zuckerberg is saying: “Imagine this for a second. One man with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures. I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.” Many realized that the video was a ‘deepfake’ or one where the speaker’s face or lip movements or voice have been faked using AI and an actor. In the past there have been deepfakes of others such as Barack Obama where comedian Jordan Peele channels the former US President to holler at the current saying: “President Trump is a total and complete dipshit!”. Or another where Hillary Clinton impersonator Kate McKinnon makes her weep. Yet the Zuckerberg video addresses the most important issue of our time. Data and the ability to shamelessly profit from it. The video poetizes the phenomenon by making the one person around whom this whole debate has raged for years its main protagonist. I think that in itself is an act of boldness, wit and artifice worth applauding because it required a fresh way of thinking and looking at a pretty scrambled debate.

In a later video Bill makes Zuckerberg own up another fact that everyone knows or suspects about Facebook. “I wish I could tell you that our mission in life was just connecting people but it isn’t,” says he, “We just want to predict your future behaviours. Spectre showed me how to manipulate you into sharing intimate data about yourself and all those you love for free. The more you express yourself the more we own you.” That line for me is the biggest question of our times. How much of ourselves should we cede to this giant monster that grows stronger every day as we feed bits of ourselves to it.

The ‘Spectre’ that many of Bill Posters videos refer to is also a very intelligent ruse. It’s an “immersive installation” that he and fellow artist Daniel Howe created for a show at Sheffield, England, but it is more than that. It’s a metaphor for all that is wrong with us today. The name ‘Spectre’ is founded on Dr Aleksandr Kogan a.k.a. Dr Aleksandr Spectre, the data scientist who profited by selling 87 million Facebook profiles to Cambridge Analytica, which then used them commercially to target voters in political campaigns including those in India.

Bill Posters has used deepfake to vent collective ire and frustration over being used as data-fodder by big corporations. On Posters’ Instagram page there is another where Kim Kardashian is saying: “I genuinely love the process of manipulating people online for money.” Another of Trump saying: “It’s all about two things: algorithms and data, I pulled off the biggest heist of the century and people just have no idea.” There is of course a larger moral takeaway from this online art project. That artists must address complicated issues of our times in the best they way can: as problem solvers.

Dhiraj Singh is a well-known journalist, writer, TV personality and artist who has shown his abstract paintings and X-Ray works in India and abroad
Article link on NDTV-Mojarto is HERE

I love the idea of art being displayed in public spaces because it helps engage an audience that otherwise would not visit an art gallery or a museum. So am really excited to be showing my latest works at SelectCity Walk one of Delhi's most visited malls 

Always one to expand the reach of art from the gallery to more accessible public spaces I am happy to share that my works are part of this unique art show in a mall
This is my interview with 'Fairgaze', an online forum that helps students to engage with artists and creative professionals

Really happy to share glimpses of Hunar Charcha, a unique 'Art Chats in a Mall' series organised by Hunar TV and Gardens Galleria Mall. These glimpses are from two episodes hosted by me
My first complete handmade #artjewellery set... being showcased by the lovely Sahar Zaman 😍

Dhiraj Singh 15 July, 2019

ART IS A BIT LIKE GOD. People only feel its presence inside a gallery or an event especially designated as an art event. Sadly, art is not seen and felt everywhere as it should be. It is only a small minority like the mystics of yore who can feel the presence of art everywhere. As a writer and an artist, I strongly feel about the enormous number of binaries that we Indians carry around our heads. And on top of that is our purity-fetish. For us, things have to be clearly defined and refined before they can be aesthetically enjoyed. Right from school we are taught that there is art and there is science and the twain meet only in movies and nowadays in Apple devices.

It was with a view to deflate this rather pompous balloon that we devised a formula to take art into the heart of what has today become the hub of social life. Some months back we approached Mahim Singh, the operations head of Noida’s Gardens Galleria mall, to start an artist chat series. We chose Noida because it’s usually a distant third in the NCR arts calendar. Initially skeptical, Mahim later saw value in our desire to start a dialogue at a space where people came with the singular purpose of shopping and hanging out. Let’s surprise them, we told him, and give them something they’re not expecting. Since I am also a co-founder, along with Sahar Zaman, of Hunar TV, a web channel whose aim is to make arts more accessible we decided to call the series ‘Hunar Charcha’.

We gave the mall a list of artists, musicians, singers, writers and a host of other performers whose practice fell in the in-between, undefinable space. Soon the idea began to roll on its own momentum. And thus began an exciting journey of taking art everywhere, literally. Our first Hunar Charcha was with a unique breakthrough artist who is unlike anyone in India. We got a ‘senior model’ to begin our ‘artist chat in a mall’ series. Dinesh Mohan is 60 years old and is a rage on ramp shows and TV commercials. He is tall and well-built with a fashionable shock of grey on his head and his face. But that is not all. Dinesh is also the story of contemporary India coming to terms with an ageing population. “I get trolled and age-shamed for doing what am doing,” Mohan told a rapt audience in the mall. His personal life has been a roller-coaster. His was two-decade old battle with crippling depression and obesity till he came to a point where he decided to will himself back to life.

The art world sometimes tends to get very dense and hifalutin for people struggling to make a living in the city. I have sat through endless lectures and harangues from art world worthies who’d like to believe that the public is only drawn to random sentimentalia. That may have been the case a decade or so ago but now things are different. All it takes for a smart phone user is to take out his phone and Google what it is that he’s seeing in front of him. And if he likes what he’s seeing, it’s going to be there in his camera roll and his social media soon enough. The idea was also to make this encounter with art an offline, real-time one. And we couldn’t have chosen better. Dinesh is also an actor who had a small role in ‘Bharat’ and has a bigger one in the upcoming Anurag Kashyap production ‘Saand Ki Aankh’. By the end of his Hunar Charcha Dinesh had created a spontaneous fan-club right in the middle of a busy mall.

Our second artist in the series was a young, upcoming desi-rapper who raps about some really edgy challenges of urban India. His song called ‘Band Kamraa’ speaks about the closeted life of LGBTQ kids. The song sensitively portrays the inner anguish and sometimes physical violence faced by LGBTQ boys and girls especially from their families. ABHI Urf Rapper Wolf is a radio jockey by the day but when he’s free and has the mind-space, he likes to wander off to do some creative heavy-lifting. The idea behind these talks is also to acquaint shoppers and mallrats with the inner life of artists. It is an effort to stop people from becoming mere consumers of art but also real enjoyers and partakers of it. And people do come back to the artists to say how inspired they are by their stories and performances.

Our next episode will feature Shishanath Sapera whom I first heard way back in 2007 at Central Park in Connaught Place. It was the first-ever sapera orchestra that I’d heard. And I was blown away by the haunting quality of their music that came from 100 ‘beens’. They played ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ with such remarkable finesse that everyone sat transfixed. Shishanath and other saperas like him have been left without a livelihood when in the late 1990s a change in the Wildlife Protection Act brought an end to their traditional snake-keeping. Today many saperas have left their family vocation and switched to small jobs. Shishanath is now in his sixties and am much looking forward to his first performance in a mall.

Dhiraj Singh is a well-known journalist, writer, TV personality and artist who has shown his abstract paintings and X-Ray works in India and abroad
Article link on NDTV-Mojarto is HERE



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As an art practitioner I work in a variety of mediums, what you see here are glimpses of my many creative projects. If you like or feel strongly something here please don't forget to comment



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