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Tabish Khan

Please could you briefly introduce yourself and give an overview of your background

I'm an art critic specialising in London's art scene, covering contemporary and historical exhibitions. I visit and write about hundreds of exhibitions a year covering everything from the major blockbusters to the emerging art scene.

I've been visual arts editor for Londonist since 2013 and am a regular contributor for FAD with a weekly top exhibitions to see in London and a column called 'What's wrong with art'.

I'm a trustee of ArtCan, a non-profit arts organisation that supports artists through profile raising activities and exhibitions

What motivated you to pursue a career focused on the arts?

While commuting to my office job I would spot advertisements on the Underground for major exhibitions and this got me interested as I had no knowledge of art.

I started to visit some exhibitions and found it eye-opening and exciting. This interest accelerated and I started visiting more exhibitions, wherever I could find them.

After a few months a cousin recommended writing a blog so I did and that got very little traction. When looking for a place to promote my writing I stumbled across Londonist who were a lot smaller than they are today, and were primarily volunteer led. I pitched myself to them and nearly 10 years later I’m still with them as visual arts editor.

My reviews for Londonist now get mentioned on those same posters on the Underground that were my original inspiration, and it’s very rewarding to see my story come full circle.

Please could you tell us who or what has had the most significant influence on you in your life?

I can't pinpoint a single individual but all my friends and family have been instrumental in helping me be where I am today. Plus conversations with strangers can often have powerful effects in sparking ideas.

How would you describe yourself?

I've never been a fan of labels so feel free to to see me however you choose … just make sure it's positive.

What motivates you?

I'm passionate in helping people access and be inspired by the arts. Reflecting on how I became a critic I want to reach all the other Tabish Khan's in waiting out there.

When we can travel again, what international destination would you most like to visit and why?

The list will be very long but we were due to visit relatives in Texas just before lockdown hit so I look forward to that being rescheduled – when it's safe to do so.

What was the last piece of art you purchased?

I was a selector on the ING Discerning Eye exhibition and I bought some works from my own selection.

What work of art would you most like to own?

I would love to own a massive painting by Anselm Kiefer but even if I could afford one I wouldn't have anywhere to put it.

Which person (alive or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?

I've often been told I can make conversation with anyone so I'd be happy with anyone who is good company. Though if I had a preference it would definitely be for someone who is alive.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to make a living out of selling their art in 2021?

It may be tough but there's also so many platforms, prizes and opportunities out there. So don't be afraid to go for things and be versatile.

What key piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Nothing. Every experience I've had makes me the person I am today and I'm happy with where I am, so I wouldn't change a thing.

What is the most important thing to know about you?

It's very hard to shut me up.

Please tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.

I studied Biomedical Science so I spent a lot of time dissecting dead bodies.

What are your aspirations for 2021?

So many people that I want to see once it's safe to do so.

Any final words…..

Never :)

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