Rabindra KD Saur Singh, ‘Some like it hot (burning desire)’, poster, gouache, gold dust on mountboard, 23.5x23.5cm, 2003.from the 'Ragamala' series [enlarge]

Rabindra KD Saur Singh, ‘Some like it hot (burning desire)’, poster, gouache, gold dust on mountboard, 23.5x23.5cm, 2003.
from the 'Ragamala' series

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REVIEW

The Singh Twins: Past Modern

The Walker, National Museums, Liverpool
22 January – 17 April

Reviewed by: Pete Clarke »

There is a very knowing and ironic twist to this exhibition by Amrit and Rabindra Singh. The exhibition title ‘Past Modern’ and the accompanying catalogue Worlds Apart alongside their paintings open up significant questions concerning western modernism, global consumer capitalism and cultural exchange. These dichotomies and contradictions between concepts of East and West, history and modernity, the regional and the global, make this a very interesting and relevant exhibition. What would concepts of modernism and/or post-modernism mean from the Singh Twins’ cultural and creative perspective? Given the emphasis on their dual identities as identical twins and creative collaborators, perspective and multiplicity are important cultural as well as visual metaphors.

The paintings made individually and collaboratively are rooted in the Indian storytelling tradition – especially the courtly miniature works of the Mughal Period – but they build on these narrative conventions as historical transcriptions to expose and comment on contemporary culture, Western values and assumptions, and international politics. This symbolic language, detailed and beautifully elaborate using Indian watercolour, gouache, poster paint and gold dust on mountboard create a rich tapestry of imagery reflecting their roles as artists, cultural participants, critical observers and social commentators.

This exhibition needs to be studied quietly to reveal all the complexities of the ironic metaphor and formal structure. Manhattan Mall, for example, depicts a family event representing a tourist view of New York. However, it is important when studying these works not to rush to conclusions about obvious meanings. This painting reveals the real value of their ironic narratives where Western hegemony and global consumer capitalism is held up for public scrutiny. The beast of revelation reinterprets and is inspired by William Blake and is a dense and almost hysterical commentary on concepts of power, politics and meaning.

To say the Singh Twins are unique is to simply state the obvious; there is no-one in contemporary practice quite like them.

Venue detail:
National Museums Liverpool »
127 Dale Street, LIVERPOOL L2 2JH

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