Working with an unlimited range of materials, Ayesha Sultana investigates space, vision, and form through her drawings, paintings, and sculptural constructions.Read More
Sultana studied at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore, Pakistan, receiving her BFA in Visual Arts in 2007 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education the following year. Her tutors included the artists Huma Mulji, Julia Ahmad, and Farida Batool. Early works from this period often feature human figures and environments drawn from found imagery of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Following her graduation, repetition and abstraction entered Sultana's work, which led to her experimentation with various processes and textures. For Doubles (2012), she photographed the back of an air conditioner, printing the image and photocopying it again to create jagged patterns. A study of the progression of time can be found in 'Breath Count' (2019–2020), a series of markings made on clay-coated paper that range from half-circles to rows of small vertical lines. In a 2020 interview with Ocula Magazine, Sultana said that she does not 'associate repetition with boredom', stating that 'every mark is intentional for me.'
Sultana garnered critical attention for her graphite drawings, such as those presented in her 2014 solo exhibition Outside the Field of View at Experimenter, Kolkata. Typically, the artist covers acid-free paper with layers of graphite, allowing her hand to remain visible in the markings, and then cuts or folds the paper into three-dimensional forms. As a result of gaining spatial depth, the drawings begin to appear almost like metal, resembling a slab of corrugated iron in Outside the Field of View XI (2013) or creating a metallic, gradational effect in Outside the Field of View VI (2014).
The study of spatial relationships is an integral part of Sultana's practice. For A Space Between Things (2015–2016), commissioned for Dhaka Art Summit 2016, the artist placed sculptural installations throughout a room—wall-mounted, suspended from the ceiling, and on the floor—envisioning the space as a work of art in itself—an interactive drawing that became activated with the audience's movements.
Sultana continues to engage with diverse materials and techniques. In 2019's Over the Edge—a suite of four paintings in blue—she focused on the painted surface through variations in the density of the paint. In Miasms, from the same year, ink in the vivid colours of blue, red, and green permeates tissue paper, making visible the thin material's porous nature.
Bare Bones, Experimenter, Kolkata (2021); Making Visible, Experimenter, Kolkata (2017); A Space Between Things, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Blue Velvet, Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Rome (2014).
Searching for Stars Amongst the Crescents, Experimenter, Kolkata (2019); 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2018); New Configurations, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2018); 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016); welcome to what we took from is the state, Queens Museum, New York (2016); Approaching Abstraction, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021