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At MAFA Gallery, Chelsea College of Art

Please introduce yourself and your practice.

My name is Farrukh Akbar, and I am a London-based artist. I graduated in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Art (University of Arts London) and am currently completing my Masters degree in Fine Art.

My emerging field of enquiry reflects my interest in technology and post-humanist influences on contemporary society. My current art research explores the changing relationship of humans and technology in the digital age.

The artwork is often researched through philosophical and scientific enquiry. Most recently, apart from painting I have been working with photography, video, sculpture, collage and projection.

You are currently doing a Masters in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts after having a successful professional career. What made you go back to study art?

I started my career as a Chartered Accountant working in Finance both in private and public sector. Then in 2013 I made a decision to totally change direction and pursue my first passion: art.

I had always known that some day I would return to art as my full-time career. Pursuing a Masters degree in Fine Art in the University of Arts London has been one of the most surprising, exciting and satisfying experiences on my life.

You’ve had enormous success with your latest body of work, exhibiting at both the Royal Academy and Tate. Can you tell me about this work and how you might be able to adapt it from exhibition to commercial/institutional spaces?  

Over the last two years I have also been working with sculpture and projection. This has worked really well in expressing ideas arising from my research into the changing relationship between technology and humankind.

I was invited to show my work and talk about it at the Royal Academy of Arts Late Event in Aug 2017. I have also collaborated as part of the Digital Makers Collective with Tate Modern exhibiting both at their Late event in January and as a six-day residency in March 2018. The latter has been covered by Sky News TV.

One of the installations in both these events has been in the form of a mock holographic statue. This comprises a video projected onto a ceramic sculpture of a human head/bust. These works have allowed me to express the close association between artificial intelligence, humans and art.

These works are visually striking and quite unique. In the context of an institutional or commercial space they make an attractive, powerful and modern statement and can be adapted to express the concept, ethos or brand of the organisation. However, I think art is most expressive when it also reflects the artist’s research-based concept. The installations vary in size from a life-size bust to larger installations occupying prominent architectural spaces. The physicality of the artwork can be a free-standing projected sculpture or a projected relief mounted onto a wall.

You’ve done several commissions in the past – how do you approach creating an artwork for a specific space, company, institution, etc.?

The commissions usually starts with an initial meeting with the client to discuss the client’s needs and purpose of the work. This is usually conducted at the client’s home/work where the piece is going to be installed. In the case of a commercial organisation this may involve a discussion with key representatives of the management/staff; this is a good way to understand the ethos, values and history of the organisation and what it wants to achieve from the artwork.

The exact location for the artwork is also an important factor in designing the piece. Considerations such as light, colour, size, its relationship to other structures and artwork in near proximity are thought through together.

Most clients like to see drawings, sketches, mock-ups or other examples of similar work. A quote for the cost of the work is worked out as is the estimated time scales for completion. These are discussed with the client.

Once completed the work is shown to the client and once satisfied it can be mounted or installed by client’s own installers or can be done by me. In either case I usually like to present at the installation.

If you could place your work anywhere in the world, where would it be? (Institution, outdoor public place, private space, etc. – anything is fine here!)

If I was given a choice of placing my work anywhere in the world it would be anywhere it is loved and appreciated.

Sky News interview at Tate 2018

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