Personal Pop will acquaint you with the idiosyncratic work of the unknown, prematurely deceased, highly promising Bangladeshi-British artist Shah Jahan (b. 1976, Sylhet, Bangladesh; d. 2015, Birmingham, UK). He grew up in Birmingham, studied at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University, and worked as a resident at De Ateliers in Amsterdam from 1998 to 2001. His work is strikingly varied, comprising videos, sculptures, paintings, collages, installations, clothing and drawings that blend the fabric of his own everyday life with the language of pop art and popular culture.
Shah was convinced that art possessed a transformative quality, and he envisioned a position for himself at the centre of society. He strove to make a kind of art he called “personal pop”: it was close to mass culture, like pop, but at the same time completely personal. He availed himself of popular media imagery as well as private photographs, used low-cost materials, produced a significant volume of work, and mixed the personal with the universal, the charming with the political, and the glamorous with the raw.
His body of work is made up of apparently accessible objects that on closer inspection turn out to be part of a deeper web of meanings and references, with links to each other, religion, politics and identity. As such, it meshes perfectly with contemporary reality, in which objects, people, ideas and worlds are increasingly intertwined. His work is capable of commanding the viewer’s attention and then holding it.
Shah’s unique ideas about art, his drive to produce, his unbridled ambition, and the great promise all those strengths added up to were overshadowed by his mental health problems and his early death at 38. Cut down in his prime, he was never able to reach full maturity as an artist. Parts Projects aims to give Shah the attention he deserves by introducing his work to a Dutch audience.