All the blind men presents the results of Babak Golkar’s two-year long investigation into the possibilities of painting: the apparatus of its circulation and its tenacity as a means to carry meaning and value. The subjects of these representational works draw upon key historical characters and political moments from the last 100 years, each of which continues to resonate with uncomfortable potency in our current political moment. Manifesting in an array of media and object forms, they demonstrate the artist’s signature working process of deconstruction, replication and transformation.
Golkar’s research emerges from his interest in the relationship between space and human conditions in the contemporary world, and aims to both examine and upend established ways of looking. The exhibition’s title references an ancient parable about a group of sightless men who come to blows after each attempting to describe an elephant based on the part of the animal’s body they are able to touch. Elements of this story, which warns about the limitations of perception, the danger of misinformation and the folly of claiming absolute truths, surface throughout the exhibition, in both form and content: the image of Chairman Mao swimming (or is it perhaps his body double?) appears in multitude in a wallpaper design that is itself multiplied on the surface of a field of mirrored ceramics; The Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda confronts visitors in a monumental, anamorphic painting; and Brecht’s sobering stage-play Mann ist Mann is conjured through a triangular dialogue between sound, video-recorded performance, and a painted image of the Czar of Russia pretending to fly. In each case, by distorting assumed certainties of perspective, Golkar questions accepted cultural and socio-economic systems and ideological viewpoints—as well as their persistence over time.
All the blind men has been organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, in partnership with the Servais Family Collection, and presented at their collection space The Loft in Brussels. It forms part of an ongoing series of international off-site exhibition projects by CAG produced in association with other venues.
The Servais Family Collection is a publicly accessible private art collection, committed to supporting artists and inspiring audiences willing to discover an international repertoire of contemporary art practices.
Additional support provided by Stephen Fitterman