Hardeep Pandhal is a recent Glasgow School of Art MFA graduate, by way of Birmingham (birth) and Leeds Metropolitan University (for his undergraduate degree). Firmly placed as a British maker, Pandhal’s work is surprising; using humour, bold colours, and not being afraid to think a bit differently about how we experience art. This makes his work decidedly not stereotypically contemporary British, as his work leans away from the current tendencies of allowing work to be dominated by clean lines and therefore constrained by framing and wall space. Pandhal’s work is vibrant, not shying away from the use of strong colours and pop culture references. Though there’s nothing ”flat” about his work; it tackles issues such as power and subjugation, picking up cues from experiences both his own, others, and imagined. It offers a look into an alternate universe, completely imagined yet rooted in our reality. It’s rare that you’re afforded a smile when you walk into a gallery or museum, but that is exactly what I experienced when viewing Pandhal’s work at the Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show. His CV piece really hooked me, and keyed me in to the honesty and self-awareness it seems he has, alongside being able to point a finger back at himself and the art world with all its idiosyncrasies, without seeming bitter, jaded, or self-deprecating.
Pandhal is a diverse maker, being equally adept at using various mediums, such as video, illustration, installation, and a combination of all these. He says of his varied practice, “When I draw, I draw cartoons, when I do video, it’s quasi-documentary or spoof. I have been making a lot of autobiographical stuff – the point of this is demonstrate how difficult it is to make something pure and uninfluenced – or something not prescribed to an already informed audience. This is probably why my work is often said to be distinctive – it’s not really – I just do base stuff, which seems out of place – or rare to find – at least it was on my course.” Pandhal is very clear on his influences, and sites his mum as making the most original art (makes our hearts melt). Other than that, it seems conversations with all limbs of the art world that he encounters and an open mind are the key factors inspiring his work.
If you’re curious to see more of his work, he’ll be showing at Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Spike Island, Bristol and ICA, London “alongside” his mum.