In its third year at Art Dubai, Jhaveri Contemporary presents an arresting interplay among eight artists represented by the gallery. The stand brings together a distinctly non-homogeneous group—artists who work in a wide spectrum of media, and who come from different generations as well as countries beyond the Indian subcontinent. Many of them will be exhibiting in the UAE for the first time.
Coinciding with the ongoing display at Tate Britain, we display paintings by Anwar Jalal Shemza from the 1970s. These works show how he fused a profound interest in Islamic architecture and calligraphy with the language of Western abstraction. Shemza returned to certain themes and motifs time and again, and he once described his practice as being an extended experiment using only the basics: ‘One circle, one square, one problem, one life is not enough to solve it.’ Collage and text are central to the work of Simryn Gill. On view here are works, made from fragments of writing on ledger paper, that resemble a swarm of insects. Monumental versions of these were first presented at the Venice Biennale in 2013, where Gill was the sole artist chosen to represent Australia. Channel (2014) is a series of 29 mostly colour photographs of debris, caught in the roots of coastal trees and visible only when the tide is out, in front of Gill’s father’s house.
Sculptural works by Rana Begum and Prem Sahib punctuate the booth display. In a new series, Begum uses painted mild steel mesh to create grids in sequentially variable repetition. These works disentangle our experience of colour from that of form, and hint at the metaphysics of infinity and the unknowable. Begum is presently working towards her first solo exhibition at Parasol Unit in London, scheduled to open in July 2016. Prem Sahib, who had his first institutional show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, last year, presents two small wall-based works that evoke the body while eschewing figurative representation—Hang Out and Five in One (Pink). These are discrete sculptures that are set up, nevertheless, to ‘converse’ with each other. The works reveal Sahib’s continued interest in cleanly economical arrangements which, at the same time, can become distillations of emotion that suggest intimacy and desire.
Alexander Gorlizki's practice is rooted in the tradition of miniature painting. Alexander Gorlizki lives and works in New York City but also maintains a studio in Jaipur, where he works alongside a small group of master painters. His compositions move between geometric abstraction and whimsical narrative scenes that incorporate such diverse elements as (to name only a few) Uzbek textiles, Etruscan sculpture, Syrian ceramics, designs from 1940s American advertising and collage elements that use stray magazine pages. An abiding interest in the crossover between the fine and applied arts has led him, more recently, to extend his visual and figurative language to walls, floors and three-dimensional objects; Gorlizki creates immersive environments layered with wallpaper and objects made, variously, of brass, marble, wood and glass. Variable Dimensions, his six-month solo exhibition at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, closes later this month.
Ali Kazim’s skill in rendering the human body, using traditional techniques such as pardakht (literally, ‘upbringing’: a method involving small dots or very thin lines) and siyah qalam (‘black pen’ or ‘black brush’) has resulted in a series of delicately sensual male portraits. Simple forms set against flat, clear backgrounds or fields of earth-toned colour, Kazim’s protagonists are reservoirs of mystery; later portraits are often of the artist himself. In more recent work, Kazim has used tracing paper and black pigments to explore fleeting natural phenomena, such as the stillness before a storm, the quickness of lightning and thunder, the sudden changeability of cloud formations. A series of intricate pigment drawings, inspired by ancient ruins from his hometown of Lahore, eliminates colour and brushstroke entirely. His most recent body of work includes objects in ceramic.
Iftikhar Dadi & Elizabeth Dadi’s collaborative art practice can be located at the intersections of conceptual art and pop art with (a broadly inclusive vision of) popular culture. The Urdu Film Stills refer to the history of cinema in Pakistan and the central place of emotion in South Asian aesthetic categories and values. Efflorescence focuses on the notionally national flowers of politically contested regions. (Mokhran, or magnolia, shown here represents North Korea). Inspired by popular commercial signage and created as large neon and incandescent works in metal, the works confound expectations of what floral representation ‘should’ look like—they jump scale by their size, and their industrial artifice and graphical form are the opposite of the delicate and the natural.