Thursday, January 20th, 2022
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The original is the exciting first form, the beginning that is completely new and so not copied or derived from something else. It means originality is creativity or representing a departure from previous or traditional practices. Thus an original piece is a first version and a unique piece from which copies or alternative versions are made. And in case of art an original is an authentic piece of art, a genuine work of art, simply a work of a person of outstanding creativity or revolutionary thinking.

Artist Muhammad Zeeshan was interested in the idea of originality. He wanted to know does it exist. And if it does, then how do we recognize it? And to find his answers Zeeshan challenged the idea of originality and he embarked on projects and performances at home and abroad at different art galleries. Now Muhammad Zeeshan in his latest body of work addressed an issue of originality globally as for Art Dubai 2018, Sanat Gallery, Karachi, presented his artworks titled "Original Copy of Original Copy of Copy Originals" to the international audiences.

"While international art fairs aim to promote art and enrich it as an industry, I presented not just my work, but its slow and imminent ruin, thereby juxtaposing its commoditized markets, the pomp and circumstance, culture, collection and subsequent ownership, with the intrinsic value that art truly holds. "It is a fact that I do not own any of my creations anymore as they have been acquired by various collections. All I am left with is the digital image of my creations and my original creations are being enjoyed by the collectors who own them," said Muhammad Zeeshan in a statement.

Muhammad Zeeshan presents three versions of each work; the original, the first copy, and the second copy. Slight variations in the rendering of each piece differentiate one from the other. It is the artist's intention that through these subtle differences between the original and the copies, questions are raised; what defines an original piece of art? And a first copy? And a second copy? How does all this affect the value of a piece of art? How do ideas about 'original' and 'copy' affect buyers? What does a buyer ultimately want, and why?

"Original Copy of Original Copy of Copy Originals is a subtle commentary on consumerism and the growing commoditising of art as a marketable item for which there is growing demand."

"Often a replica of products that range from branded items like clothes, shoes, jewellery, leather products, accessories, and even trophies awarded for sports, etc. are valued at much less than the original. However, here Muhammad Zeeshan has produced the copies himself using the exact resources quantitatively as well as qualitatively."

"Original Copy of Original Copy of Copy Originals is a series of works in which the breadth of media and subjects that Muhammad Zeeshan is known for is presented. In this presentation, he has employed the imagery that has come to be popularly associated with him; motifs and representations reflecting the multi-cultural heritage of the subcontinent.

"While the questions raised by Original Copy of Original Copy of Copy Originals are deeply complex, and beg extensive discussion and even debate about where art and the art market are headed, Zeeshan's spirited and tongue-in-cheek presentations are appropriately refined, as cultivated by his long standing practice," said Abid Merchant, director of Sanat gallery.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018


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