Omar Zingaro Bhatia: The Myth Maker

Life as an artist is hard, according to artist <strong>Omar Zingaro Bhatia</strong>. Not convinced, The Skinny looks to catch a glimpse of the man beneath the fiction

Feature by Andrew Cattanach | 31 Mar 2011

In terms of certainty, we can only really talk of our own experiences. No-one really knows what anyone else is thinking or feeling, do they? You can’t honestly tell if your mum is pleased to see you or not, and you certainly don’t know what your mate actually thinks of your new boyfriend. This being the case, it’s probably better we all mind our own business and stick to what we know best – ourselves.

Where this has been a quandary puzzling all kinds of epic brainiacs, Omar Zingaro Bhatia, on the other hand, is quite at ease. He subscribes to the age-old belief that we, as artists, can assume nothing of the outside world, and that we are destined to make art about how we impact on the things around us.

Suave and well dressed, Bhatia cuts an impressive figure. It’s no wonder he takes a prominent, performative role in his art, often appearing alongside his work, inhabiting his installations. And with his forthcoming show at the Briggait, Glasgow, it’s no different. Performing in a video as a version of himself, he looks to enact a recent personal crisis. Entitled The Art World: A Tragedy, he will explore the difficulties he faced as a recent graduate living at home and struggling to find ways to exhibit his art.

“The video is about that period between June and now, where I was just sitting at home – I wasn’t getting any press coverage, I wasn’t getting any shows, and I felt quite frustrated. And then I understood what they talk about at arts school – that black hole you experience post graduation.”

Along with his brother, who helped him make the video, Bhatia has collaborated with the fashion designer and style blogger Marina MacLean for the forthcoming exhibition F I G M E N T S. Together they designed a conceptual ‘art suit’ that he will wear at the opening. “I first met Omar when I photographed him for my Glasgow style blog, Style Scanner,” MacLean explains. “He has such a strong look. Then, on discovering his art, I adored it too.”

Bhatia describes how he first bonded with MacLean over shared reservations about their chosen industries. “There were certain things she didn’t like about the fashion world, and there were things I didn’t like about the art world,” he says. “There’s just too much artwork in Scotland that’s overly academic.”

In the second of the two gallery spaces, Bhatia will exhibit something similar to his well received degree show, Spuriosity Shop. Far from academic, it will be an eclectic assortment of trinkets and paintings that will intimate a character – probably him again. “My art is about life,” he explains. “My own life, admittedly.”

Despite the ego and the bravado, not to mention all the suffering he must endure at the hands of a cruel art world, Bhatia is shy and, at times, painfully self-conscious. He apologises more than once for not having his usual demeanour, revealing an awareness of a world beyond himself – that there are people who apprehend him, and not just he them.

This is perhaps the real tragedy of Omar Zingaro Bhatia, not that he suffers at the hands of an indifferent art scene, but that he cares. Perhaps one of the last truly tragic characters, we should wholeheartedly celebrate this dying breed – the self-mythologising, narcissistic artist.

8-28 Apr, The Briggait, Glasgow, Tues-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm, Sat 12-5pm, Free

F I G M E N T S is presented as part of The Skinny Award from RSA New Contemporaries 2010. The exhibition is also supported by Own Art 

To see more of Omar's work, go to one of his many blogs