Saturdays Artists Series Part 3: Shilpa Gupta, India

Why is Jacqueline Fernandez perfect face for 'Joya' - news

A brilliant artist. Her determination to bring out the injustices committed against artists of the past, for example, poets (near and dear to my heart as I consider myself not an artist but a poet), is something that I greatly admire.

Her installation at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale titled For, in Your Tongue, I Can Not Hide, features the work of one hundred poets, dead poets imprisoned for their poetry and or politics. Shilpa’s oeuvre attempts to re-secure the voice of 100 poets who, in different times and in different centuries have been imprisoned for their writings and/or their political positions. The installation is made filling a room with printed sheets of the prisoners’ poems impaled on metal rods. They are accompanied by recorded recitations of the poems. This work is a bona fide effort to try to bring forth to the light of the present day how vulnerable our right to free speech may actually be. In today’s world there are many countries, like communist Cuba, communist China, and communist North Korea, among others, where there is no freedom of expression whatsoever.

The voices of the imprisoned poets are in many languages, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, English et cetera and they come out you all together from the microphones, which do not let you speak but beckon you to listen. Many people have told me it reminds them of the voices of those like Mandela. However, when mentioning the countries where poets, writers and journalists are still imprisoned they mention countries like Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon but not countries like Cuba, Russia, North Korea. I’ve heard many lament the plight of those killed or jailed by autocratic or totalitarian right wing regimes but few speak of those suffering persecution in communist or left leaning countries. I find that dichotomy hipocritical to the extreme.

I have not heard the voices, nor do I know who the 100 poets are in Shilpa’s installation but I sincerely hope she has included there the voices of Cuban writers and poets silenced forever by the communist regime, writers like Lizama Lima who was imprisoned in his home and decreed persona non grata.

Shilpa was born in Bombay in 1976. She works different mediums to include objets trouvés, installations, to videos and to computer based installation and performance. Although I am not a fan of these types of conceptual art, I have to admire the fact that this artist has chosen to speak up for those who have been formally and officially shut down. That makes a difference to me.

Reference her work, she states, “I am interested in perception and therefore, with how definitions get stretched or trespassed, be it gender, beliefs, or the notion of a state.”

Her work has been shown in many places and she has participated in these biennials (some very prestigious, some created for propaganda purposes, like the Havana Biennial):

Venice Biennale (2019); Kochi Muziris Biennale (2018, 2019);GöteborgBiennial (2017, 2015); Havana Biennial (2015, 2006); 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Sharjah Biennale ’13 (2013); New Museum Triennial (2009); Biennale de Lyon (2009); Gwangju Biennale (2008); Yokohama Triennale (2008); the Liverpool Biennial (2006) and biennales at Auckland, Seville, Seoul, Sydney and Shanghai.

Shilpa Gupta: the artist bringing silenced poets back to life | Art and  design | The Guardian

Shilpa is a very highly recognised conceptual artist. She has been leading that genre for more than twenty years and has influenced many young artists who aim towards that direction of art. Her work is in the Guggenheim collection as well as the Caixa Forum here in Spain.

I am a poet who writes, paints and creates music here in my city of Valencia, Spain. Besides this blog I also post my artwork (paintings) as well as digital art (photography) to my INSTAGRAM which I invite you to visit: @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera . My YouTube channel contains short photo montages of my work and the works of many of the artists that I feature here in my blog. My background music is always one of my original compositions, many times performed by myself and others with my group the Abstract Jazz Arrangement (AJA), some of our earlier material you can listen to here: . I leave you with a short video clip of some of my pen/graphite on paper illustrations. Through this link you can access my YouTube channel.

(Please do not forget to like and to subscribe to our YouTube channel, thank you!)


Saturdays Artists Series Part 2: Zohra Opoku, Ghana

Zohra Opoku | Art Base Africa

Most definitely a very interesting artist. I really like the work of this woman of German and Ghanaian descent who lives in Accra, capital of Ghana…

Accra | Where to live in Accra - Wanted in Africa

Her work is political, and I love that. I truly believe that artists are some of the best people to discuss politics with because artists are usually very well informed people. I remember, back when I was at university, meeting an artist, a fashion designer and the first thing he told me was that he read five newspapers every day while having his morning coffee. When I asked him why, he said that from the news, from daily affairs, one gains insight into people and one can create for them…

Zohra Opoku uses various mediums to create her art. She uses installation, photography and performance. Her screen-printing, is done through a medium called cyanotype and van dyke brown printing. She uses textile to discover cultural and political influences. Her fashion work explores the psychological and social roles of individuals and societies. Zohra focuses on the nature that surrounds her as well as on her native culture. She understands that the history of her land can be reflected on the clothing and the textiles used.

Zohra Opoku | Mbari Uno

I truly have been engaged with her photography and I encourage you to look further into the work of this very creative West African woman. To complement this post, I have created a photo montage video of some of her work. She was born in 1976.


Saturdays Artists Series part 1: Inji Aflatoun, a photo montage video

Inji Aflatoun - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Here I’ve selected an array of some of the paintings of this very interesting artist, Inji Aflatoun, born in El Cairo, Egypt on the 16th of April 1924-and died on the 17th of April 1989.

Here is the photo montage video. I hope you like it and more, I would really love to hear from you. I invite you to continue this conversation, this discussion, frank and clear, on art, on artists and especially on women artists who have been, in many ways, removed from the history of art.

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Saturdays Artists Series part 1: Inji Aflatoun, Egyptian Artist, (1924-1989)

Photo of Inji Aflatoun.jpg

Inji Aflatoun, greatly influenced the arts as well as the women’s movement in Egypt. She was a pioneer of modern Egyptian art. Although she was a Marxist, she did help the plight of female equality during the 1940’s and 50’s. However, she tended to link the struggle of women and gender oppression to the struggle of classes and her condemnation went mostly towards countries she saw and judged as imperialistic. This is evident for she published in these journals Thamanun milyun imraa ma’ana (Eighty Million Women with Us) in 1948 and Nahnu al-nisa al-misriyyat (We Egyptian Women), journals known for their anti-imperialistic and communist slanted viewpoints.

Inji had a private art tutor, Kamel el-Telmissany, who introduced her to Marxist thought as well as to know and understand the way of life of Egyptian peasants. In the art world, he was a leader in an Egyptian Surrealist collective called the Art and Freedom Group. He introduced her to the style of the surrealists as well as the cubists. During that period her paintings reflected, more than anything, the influence of surrealism.

She stopped painting from 1949 thru 1948, having lost her inspiration, but by 1950 she had sought training from the Egyptian-born Swiss artist Margo Veillon and exhibited in Cairo and Alexandria. She also participated in the Venice Biennale (1952) as well as the São Paulo Art Biennial (1956). That year she met the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros.

In 1959 she was arrested and secretly imprisoned during Nasser’s roundup of communists. She was released in 1963, however she continued painting during her imprisonment, mostly portraits and landscapes. After her release she exhibited in Rome and Paris. In 1970 she exhibited her work in Dresden, East Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow.

Her paintings can make you think of Van Gogh or Bonnard, due to the strength of the colours and the brushstrokes. Her later art shows the use of large white spaces that surround the forms of the compositions. There is a collection of her work at the Amir Taz Palace in Cairo and another collection can be seen at the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah.

Inji Aflatoun - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

I have provided a companion post with some of the works of this very interesting artist which had much to do with the developing history of art of her native country.


Happy Birthday Turkey!

(The waterfront of the city of Izmir, Turkey, photo taken by and property of FBC, Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia)

From my many travels to Turkey, I have created this photo montage video with original music I’ve composed for my group AJA (

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