Hardeep Pandahl: Hobson-Jobson

Collective Gallery: Until January 17th

Hobson-Jobson shows the work of Glasgow-based artist Hardeep Pandahl. The exhibition addresses the personal, politically loaded issue of racial identity via a selection of graphic, textured and provocative pieces.

Alongside the contemporary illustrations of exploding heads, life-sized snake men and a knitted figure at the centre of the room, there are clips of script and emotive words integrated into the artwork. The sections of text on one of his pieces describe disturbing imagery such as “our camera lingers solemnly over the unfilled grave”. Other pieces contain thought-provoking, and at times both humorous and dark, words and phrases such as “kebab”, “my problem is I treat everybody the same” and, controversially, “KKK”. However, these words are not random and nor are they controversial just for the sake of it. These words have been carefully chosen to make a profoundly affecting point. In one artwork Pandahl has included a swastika. While this may seem unnecessarily provocative at first, an explanation for this decision is offered in the literature: the swastika, in Indian culture, used to mean “all is well” before it was adopted and warped into representing Hitler’s ideals.

With all racial issues one is taught to look past the visual and see the truth that lies beneath it. Hobson-Jobson is, arguably, a metaphor for this attitude. At first the imagery is childish, gaudy and seemingly borne from the mind of a comic-book obsessed teenager. However, the motive behind this gradually becomes clear: he is emphasising that one should not be quick to judge on visual impressions alone.

While the illustrations are incredibly affecting and challenging, the accompanying video leaves much to be desired. Made up of several pasted together clips of footage, the video includes scenes of him creating the artwork along with culturally rich Indian festivals. At one point a voice over reads a section of script from the same text one of the illustrations is decorated with. While the reading does not seem to add much to the exhibit as a whole, perhaps it is representative of something he considered to have contributed to the person he is today.

As a deeply personal exhibit which addresses the subject of racial identity through several mediums, Pandahl’s Hobson-Jobson expresses the inner conflict the question of identity can cause within us all. This exhibition will not be for everybody but it is a fantastic opportunity for those who are open-minded and wish to be exposed to some hard-hitting social commentary in contemporary, colourful and challenging artwork.

Image: Collective Gallery

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