The Abdi File: The 411 on Bravo’s art show winner

The Brooklyn Paper
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Who the hell is Abdi Farah and why does he have an exhibition at the internationally renowned and widely loved Brooklyn Museum?

Farah got his 15 minutes of artistic fame after besting 13 other artists in Bravo’s “Work of Art” reality show, a controversial, “Top Chef”–style competition.

He didn’t only win it because of his creations.

Throughout the show, Farah made fans with his well-mannered demeanor, always hovering above the drama that gives reality shows their complete and utter lack of reality.

Yet despite his outer calm, Farah’s art consistently wrestled with issues of race and urban life in a very vivid and forceful way.

“[Farah] is technically proficient. There is a lot of humanity in his work,” said China Chow, one of the judges on the show. “There is a lot of gratitude in his work, and it comes across.”

Interestingly, Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York Magazine and another judge on the show, said that the Maryland native Farah did not necessarily produce the most remarkable pieces of all the competitors.

“[Farah] won by extending himself and his art, expanding on his weak ideas and making them work for and not against him,” Saltz wrote. “Abdi won by not being cynical; by actually putting himself through an emotional-aesthetic wringer; reaching deeper.”

Now, armchair art critics can head to the Brooklyn Museum, pass their own judgments on Farah’s work and decide for themselves if Bravo’s reality show format properly assesses what constitutes a “work of art.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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