Saturday, February 19, 2011
Gerry Judah: Interpretations of a conflicting world
Think of an aerial view of a town – not a mere two-dimensional image, but the real thing in real time – complete with densely packed buildings, electric poles, communication lines and water towers. You perhaps imagined a peaceful, ordinary town with people hurrying on to their businesses. But in this town, there are no people; they have all long since perished. What we have instead is a scene of destruction, a town turned death cold, an abandoned cluster of ruined structures. The cause of this wreckage may be a war or a natural calamity, but in either case it has an unmistakable trace of human involvement in it – manmade constructions succumbing to manmade destructions. This is what renowned artist Gerry Judah offers to the viewers in his astonishingly ‘crafted paintings’. His large canvases hold scale models of towns which have been systematically destroyed as a process of his work. The end result is a stark landscape in white, the color of peace, but a landscape which is far removed from peace itself.
Gerry has chosen a painstaking process to make his comment as an artist. This is a comment which will perhaps disturb nation heads and political leaders across the globe, but which will always find the common man in agreement. It is not an exaggeration to say that his works are as striking and hard hitting as Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. (Unfortunately, the world from the times of Guernica has not changed much, and thinkers, artists, performers and writers of every generation are still engaging their mediums to make this point.) Gerry says it without hesitation and without any personal commentary. He is like a photo journalist walking the viewer detachedly through the mayhem of the modern world.
Artistically, Gerry creates a perfectly balanced, lyrical experience contrary to the brutal subject matter. There are subtle light and shadows interacting on his canvases, modulating in tandem with the materials he chooses. At a first glance, his work feels like a gestural expression, but in actuality these paintings are very well planned and crafted out with incredible patience.
Gerry was born in 1951 in Kolkata (Calcutta) and grew up in West Bengal as a child. His maternal and paternal grandparents came from Baghdad to settle in the already established Baghdadi Jewish community in India and Burma. His mother was born in Kolkata and his father in Rangoon. His family moved to London when he was ten years old. He did his graduation in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London (1972–1975) and he studied sculpture as a postgraduate student at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (1975–1977). After college, he set up his studio and began work on large sculptures. He is recognized for a number of commissions from public museums and institutions. One of his highly acclaimed commissions is a large model of the selection ramp in Auschwitz concentration camp designed for the Imperial War Museum in London. Gerry is also recognized for his spectacular settings created for performers like Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin etc. He has also created stunning installations for companies like Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz etc. at the annual 'Goodwood Festival of Speed' (FoS), a historic motor racing event in the UK. Later he returned to his Fine Art roots to create his now highly acclaimed paintings. His latest work 'THE CRUSADER' is on show from 6 November 2010 to 6 November 2011, as part of the Artist Reactions series in the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, UK.
You can see more pictures of Gerry’s work, his installations and read his biography on his website.
You can also see Gerry in action in this beautifully made film by Alex Chandon.
My sincere thanks to Gerry for permitting me to write this post.
Gerry’s picture courtesy: Phil Hunt, Film courtesy: Alex Chandon, Vimeo Hosting: Sam Marcuson