Dawn.com, the website of Pakistani media group, asks a simple question, “In an underdeveloped country like Pakistan, where pretentious populist art outnumbers limited production of highbrow aesthetics, how exactly do we define kitsch art?” The popularity of Jeff Koons only amplifies that question:
[I]t is the deliberate infiltration of kitsch in the realm of high end fine art that is questionable. Like forgery, kitsch is an inevitable feature of an art world in which money and desire are spread more widely than taste and knowledge. It is kitsch’s appeal to the crass tastes of the newly moneyed that has led to the prolific production of substandard art here.
Considerable amounts of genre art in our milieu, like watercolour, landscape and still life, as well as calligraphy, qualify in this context. Such art does not confront prevailing perceptions, and is generally imbued with a saccharine sweetness. The comfort level generated by this kitsch reassures the ever-nervous middle class of their status and position.
The role of kitsch in post modern pop art has further muddied the fine line between high and low art. The appropriation of popular, kitschy imagery and objects in contemporary miniature and multi and mix media arts is fodder to the mill of new generation art. Unlike populist art this appropriation of kitsch is challenging rather than a passive component of the art which plants kitsch right into the heart of this new art. Playing with the raw, the unorthodox and the trite has accorded young Pakistani art just the kind of edge it needed to impact international audiences.
The Art of the Common (Dawn.com)