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Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 3

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 5

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 4

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 6

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 1

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist Page 2

Indian ink on paper, 38cm x 56cm

Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist, 2021

Presented in Beano: The Art Of Breaking The Rules at Somerset House, London, England

Blurb

Hardeep Pandhal presents a new episode from his nascent and ongoing graphic Bildungsroman, which fictions pivotal moments of his life. In this episode, he recounts, through the guise of an imagined brown protagonist, the key moments leading up to his real-life banishment from Leeds City Art Gallery in 2009.

Pandhal started with writing a short, elliptical story in the textual style of a perilous RPG quest. The story is narrated by a fan-based rendition of the rapper Lil Wayne, who reached a real-life career milestone in 2009 with his mixtape No Ceilings.

Entitled Retribution of a Tolkien Artist, the episode utilises the comic medium to describe and visualise certain miasmic forces that diffuse across the people of the story. The miasma in question emanated from a major exhibition curated by acclaimed British artist Mark Wallinger at Leeds City Art Gallery in 2009. Entitled The Russian Linesman, the exhibition explored cross-cultural boundaries and ideas of liminality, allowing works from various artists to fold over one another. In this spirit, Pandhal provides an unsolicited response to the exhibition, extending and addressing its themes by taking his experience as a visitor of the exhibition as a point of arrival.

Three key references are made. Firstly: The Fineous Treasury, a highly cherished comic series that ran in the fantasy RPG magazine Dragon (1975-2007), which parodied tropes of fantasy role play. Secondly: the painting Retribution (1858) by Edward Armitage, which allegorises Britain’s violent reaction to India’s First War of Independence (otherwise known as the Indian Mutiny). This painting is currently on view at Leeds City Art Gallery (at the time of writing [2021]). Thirdly: A YouTube video showing shaky footage of the Wagah-Attari border ceremony, a daily military spectacle during which the flags of India and Pakistan are lowered at the nations’ borders. This video was exhibited in The Russian Linesman.

The work is associated with an ongoing graphic narrative that began in the mode of a sword and sorcery adventure based on reality. The opening part told the story of a brown man on a collective quest to see a performance by a Tolkien-themed black metal band, which climaxed with “tentative stomps to the head” of the brown protagonist during the story’s concluding section: a battle between the brown man’s party and a group of black metal fans. This moment, and its retelling, enabled Pandhal to both enter and sense himself entering what he calls ‘MIDIevil states of being’, states in which rare and honest parallel thoughts manifest themselves in images and sounds.

Adopting aspects of the Bildungsroman, a literary genre of works that focus on the psychological and moral growth of a protagonist from childhood to adulthood, Retribution Of A Tolkien Artist belongs to a wider project concerned with detailing the causes and effects of becoming MIDIevil.

God Speed!