Jasper Johns, that great, great American artist, once wrote a note to himself in his sketchbook – which said: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.” The excellent thing about that piece of advice is that it can be applied to anything creative: food, art, film, music, words. I have nary an arty bone in my body – I would love nothing more than to sit down and create something beautiful. I have tried. And have failed miserably.
A few months ago, Hannah was playing with my iPad and created this shot of Jack – a simple version of Johns’ exhortation – but the sense is there. I loved it immediately (subject and creator aside): there’s something about reworking what is already in play that grabs my attention. What a great thought: jam with medium and perspective, add melody lines of texture and nuance, create a new rhythm in the detail: and you have a whole new opus.
The Penniless Photographer aka Zeren Badar took Johns’ words to heart. In his “Accident” series, he creates pictures with found objects, food and cheaply printed old masters. Then he applies shadow, layers, crumples and folds – and the result is almost three-dimensional. His detail comes from unusual, everyday objects like candy, colored rubber bands, paper clips, even a shoe: “By using unexpected juxtapositions of objects, I try to create ambiguity and pull viewers attention deeper to my photographs. In many ways, I examine the new type of still life.”
I am not a fan of Dadaism, and once spent an afternoon at the Tate Modern with my pal Eddie Clarke desperately trying to like it. Or at least understand it. Couldn’t get there – the works just put my teeth on edge (their purpose, of course). Which is why I think Badar is so smart: the ‘familiar’ paintings draw you in, the sweet detail makes you comfortable, the colour and humour give you a moment of Pop Art: before you know it – you’re loving neo-Dada.
(Image of Jack created by Hannah W, copyright campari&sofa. All other images copyright Zeren Badar)