ARD DOKO at the Go Gallery, Amsterdam

Dutch artist Ard Doko brings bold caricatures from the planes of city streets to blank canvas sheets. Self-proclaimed urban arts expert, his second job consists of attributing value to the works founded upon the very ideas that fought to escape a system of evaluation in which quantitative attribution comes to frame the question of art as that of a commodity.

Taking residence at the Go Gallery, Between Pain and Pleasure is an unfortunate reminder of the decline of the aesthetic, both in terms of technique, as well as its function as a site of critique.

Doko’s bold lines are reminiscent of a teenage rebellion akin to a hesitant cry for attention followed by an immediate apology in its awareness of its own undeserving. Doko’s subjects face the viewer to reflect confrontation and look away longingly. Here is a symbolism that employs flowers to reflect beauty and black for decay. Clenched fists too, greet the audience, as the tragedy of a most unfortunate past marked by the violence of growing up in North Holland is most certainly reason to remain angry, if only we had yet to come upon this realization through the medium itself, which simply screams to expose the tyrannies of civilization and an abolishment of society.

Far from two ends of a spectrum, what lies between pain and pleasure is rather a lack of depth, or perhaps an absence of understanding-  a superficial exploration yielding to conclusion of a most generic nature, an ultimate confusion that posits itself as inner tensions of a self-conscious sophistication. It is a frustration brought on by its own awareness of cliché that attempts to self-medicate through heavy brush strokes demanding to be heard despite having little to say.

In the end, Doko’s frustration only finds itself heard only in its integration, for its confusion is the confusion of the masses, rather than that of the subject imposed by the narrative of oppression, and the only darkness we come to find lies in its pigmentation, leaving the eyes stained and the heart with much to desire.    Elaine Zheng     31st May 2019