Discourse on message-less art

by Anastasia on April 2, 2009

in Society

Stirring up controversy is this painting of Rihanna, post-assault, currently on display at the World of Wonder Gallery in Hollywood, CA. The artist, Sham Ibrahim, seems trivialize the associated issue, in an interview with E!Online:

“I thought the bruises in the police photo were interesting shapes to draw,” he says. “And it was cool to color them pink and blue. Those are two of my favorite colors.”

“There is no message to any of my art,” he says. “It’s meant to look cool hanging on your wall and that’s it! I’m not into deep meanings.”

 Commenter Valkyrie 23 over at the Globe and Mail responds:

Glad he thinks that abuse and violence are something wonderful to hang on your wall. Maybe the peice [sic] would actually have merit if there were some social comment or intent behind it. This guys [sic] isn’t an artist, he’s an effing idiot.

Maybe it’s not all bad argues commenter Misty Blue, in her response to Valkyrie 23:

Actually, by default, or intentionally, this piece has a LOT of social comment. Just maybe not the ones you think appropriate or want to hear.

This artwork allowed you a vehicle to see how detached a lot of society is from the reality and horror of abuse [...] He may not have meant these to be the comment of the piece, but by default, he has definitely made that comment just by doing the piece the way he did in the first place.

Elsewhere, bloggers and commenters have come down on various sides of the issue: questioning Ibrahim’s talent, and labelling the painting a publicity stunt, weird, and distasteful

As unintentional social commentary, the painting may have value, as Misty Blue suggests. It certainly is provocative. Concurrently, however, it just seems tacky and insensitive, a re-victimization of Rihanna and, by association, other victims of domestic violence, especially given the artist’s own related superficial commentary. But should his comments be taken at face value or can they be viewed as part of a larger artistic and cultural performance, one in which we all may be partially complicit?

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