Magdalen Road Studio Box PrintExchange 'CommUnity'
CommUnity - Exhibition Statement
Community is made both complex and elusive by many aspects of current life and culture. Internet platforms connect yet segregate us. Migration invites exchange yet alienation. One’s place among others is increasingly removed from physical location. Urban density increases both proximity and anonymity.
CommUnity print exchange proposes to simplify community. What is our obvious commonality? How immediately and tangibly can it be felt?
These artists faced these questions in various ways through their responses to this event. The very nature of this exchange creates a gathering of individuals from a variety of distant locations into a community through common art practices. The work culminates both in a public viewing of the show as a whole in a single gallery, and in the concept of box portfolio - the lasting distribution of the full print collection to each of the participants. The value of this collection is unique. Each edition contains hand signed and numbered prints, one of which is the owner’s own work. The artists are literally together within it.
Where will each collection live within the life, work, and homes of these printmakers? What correspondences may continue between artists sharing the same collections? One imagines spending years visiting and revisiting, say, a particularly cherished print, with the added depth of knowing that same artist holds the collection as well, including one’s own piece. Many of these printmakers were previously unfamiliar to each other, and are now present in each other’s work and histories in a most tangible way.
Artist and curator Asma M Hashmi was careful to honour the spontaneity and honesty of each participant’s response to the theme of Community. Confident that the process itself would inevitably reflect on community, given the shared medium and destination for showing, Hashmi simply and generously posed the theme and encouraged open-ended response. She fostered space for the potential for variety and commonality, and perhaps coincidence, among diverse artists practicing similar media.
Questions of community are complex. Even at the very local level of one individual’s creative response to a medium, there is a reckoning with others - fellow artists past or present who have inspired or challenged, friends or family members navigating around support and solitude, professional associates, imagined or real viewers … An artist may accept or even insist upon a certain distance from others for the sake of their intimate engagement with a medium. The art itself simply demands this often enough. Yet there are deep and widespread personal connections stirred by and around the results of this independent work.
By gathering around this print collection, as the artists themselves gathered around the theme, and as the physical copies of the collection are gathered ultimately, we embrace the potential to distinguish ourselves, via independent community, from a larger global political picture of divisiveness and separation. The potential of individuals and spontaneous community to reflect cooperation, support, and commonality is an important counter here. The exhibition site of Oxford, with its strong South Asian population, offers a reflection of migration and exchange between England and South Asia, each area with its own connections to Canada and France, also represented. Known challenges of migration and exchange on the large scale, particularly poignant in this moment of Brexit on one side of the Atlantic and Trump on the other, are answered through the organic potential of the community scale when we seek to engage it.
The artists in CommUnity have common practices, each expressed uniquely. They have gathered their works without necessarily knowing each other, into something we can all know, and through it, know each other.
Art mart: Graphic voices By M. S. Kureshi
Sunday, 24 Oct, 2010 | 09:42 AM PST |
Amidst the mounting momentum of art exhibitions in town, it is rare to come across a group show where each of its four artists is showing delectable works that reflect not just conviction, but also experience and maturity. With the magnitude of such a rich collection of works under one roof, the recent group show at the VM Art Gallery, Karachi, was an absolute pleasure to behold. With an extraordinary awareness to the developing contemporary trend, the gallery invariably chooses to display work that is fresh, innovative and thought-provoking.
The exhibition titled, ‘Conversation IV’ brought together 45 works of four artists who have pleasurably expressed their life’s experiences in sculptures, collages, illustrations, prints and paintings. The lines and forms of the collection urge people to make visual interpretations and emulate feelings of the artist. No doubt, most of the works had an extraordinary ability to trigger the spectator’s internal chemistry resulting in a sensational response. The convergence of inner thoughts of the artists depicted through their distinctive styles, vibrant colours and diverse mediums, made the show a comprehensive package.
Yasmeen Salman, an art graduate and an experienced instructor, exhibited 26 children’s illustrative drawings that hover around her past life, its vicissitudes and pleasantries. Her work is meditative, dealing with personal experiences and encounters in the constantly altering environment. Her colourful works range from amusing storybook illustrations, photographic collages to drawings with cartoon characters, executed in mixed media mostly graphite and coloured pencils, cut-outs and inkjet prints.
With the backdrop of a graduate degree in sculpture, national and international exhibitions, aspiration to become a sculptural ceramist, Aliya Yousaf enjoys experimenting with clay and transforming complex mental imagery into discernible shapes. To give her added flexibility in expression she has chosen to indulge generously in mixed media. In her four works on display, the forms are primarily inspired from nature depicting visual interpretation of human behaviour in different mediums. With their strong connection with nature and the resulting organic forms, her works tend to provoke a visual dialogue which gives the exhibition’s theme its meaning.
This versatile exhibition also provided the opportunity to observe Sehba Maruf’s seven impressive collages which document an autobiography. The artist, an art graduate and a seasoned teacher, uses techniques of pasting and reapplying surfaces to create a feeling of being uncomfortable; of constantly having to rearrange. Her work is retrospective and its subject deals with the feeling of being left alone, desolate and disillusioned. A constant dislocation between the physical spaces of reality from the mind's emotional state, her work is bold and whimsical. The arrangements depict recurrence of dull events; a repetitive cycle of monotony and farce. Aesthetically, these works are absolutely breathtaking and intellectually absorbing.
Asma Hashmi, an experienced instructor, holds a masters degree in art and has participated in various national and international shows. She exhibited six captivating prints which portray our ignorance to tragedy and violence. This ignorance, she denotes, in turn makes us resort to commercialism and ambitious strife. The use of sentimental symbols in her work depicts a gradual loss of innocence and clarity under layers of dull reality. In this environment of indifference, the artist’s patchwork patterns in the prints represent the provision of flimsy security. The layered translucent tints and simple patterns of her arrangements, maintaining design and colour harmony, culminate into distinctive works of art.
A collaborated work titled, ‘Conversation IV’ executed collectively by the four artists in mixed media on mount board was also on display at the exhibition. With its extraordinary rendering, harmonised content and thematic attribute, this exhibit could be termed as the most interesting display of the show.