'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...
The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...
On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...
Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present Crossfades and Drawn Forms, a duo exhibition featuring a selection of works by Iranian artist Golnaz Fathi and Chinese artist Lan Zhenghui. Transforming the gallery interior into an echo chamber of lines and interventions, the exhibiting works include paintings, a series of lightboxes, and a video projection.
Reinterpreting classical forms, Fathi's free abstractions of the written word coalesce with Lan's monumental ink landscapes to form an undulating visual rhapsody. The spiritual and intuitive strokes central to the artists' processes of creation unravel themselves upon closer scrutiny, juxtaposing introspection with expression.
Fathi's practice is rooted in traditional Persian calligraphy, a sacred form of art in the Islamic world. Her motivation is derived from the calligrapher's warm-up exercise known as shiahmashgh, or 'black practice', where letters are repeated until the page is saturated with black ink. Fathi employs this technique with reverence and delight; she considers it the most natural representation of an artist's individuality. Making contemporary works after years of calligraphy training, Fathi's every gesture on canvas is charged with liberating emotion. Her latest pen on canvas series is directed by her withdrawn state of consciousness, a collision of persistence and surprises as the quivering lines break free of Arabic script. In contrast, her untitled acrylic on canvas work is more controlled with the brushstrokes a graphic intersection of hand and heart becoming one. The lines stand out from the grey background, themselves forming a powerful melody that reverberates against 'the sound of silence'.
As the visionary Chinese counterpoint, Lan's poised individualism is imbued in his splashes of black ink on Xuan paper, a trait unseen in the ancient Chinese tradition of ink painting. Guided by his profound consideration and emotion of ink, Lan's deep-rooted interest in the medium sparked over 20 years of passionate research in the field; his experiments in scale and ink density catapulted ink painting to greater heights in the international arena. His brushstrokes are made using systemic body movements, incandescent reiterations of muscle, blood, and physical power. Each line and vector comes alive with great emphasis and personality. Influenced by his background in science, Lan's aesthetic moves between the realms of the rational and irrational. Even as Lan presents his state of mind through his paintings, ghosts of natural spectacles like mountains and storms linger on, resulting in layered revelations for audiences.
As the artists move away from the conventions of their disciplines towards abstraction, their art unlocks a boundless sea of connotations and emotive possibilities. The sheer scale of Lan's 6-metre long painting E04 produces an infinite feeling of space and time. An intangible spirituality emerges from the heavy ink, as its weight and power swell in impact. Fathi's black Plexiglass lightboxes deconstruct the drawn medium by suspending the spirit of her lines using holographic light. In a similar vein of transcendence, Fathi's video projection Seasons Changing is a colourised ebb and flow of her pen on canvas triptych Knotted Roots, bringing the mysterious tinge of afterlife to a finished painting.
Presented altogether, the dynamic lines and swathes of colour traverse between mediums and schools of practices and thought built on by Fathi and Lan. Driven by their innate meaning—a culmination of discipline, dexterity, and rumination from many years of academic study and refinement of their craft—the collection of drawn forms is a testament to their continuous redefinition of calligraphy and ink painting. A phenomenal transpiration of the essence of art making, Fathi's and Lan's ongoing artistic dialogue between the then and now conflates Eastern and Western ideals, cementing their place at the forefront of Asian contemporary art.
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