Ali Kazim

15 Jan – 09 Feb 2013

Jhaveri Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Ali Kazim, his first in Mumbai. The exhibition features new work alongside work made over the past two years in various media, presenting a cross-section of the artist’s practice.

Ali Kazim is best known for his exquisitely layered paintings, predominantly of lone men. The portraits, simple forms set against flat, clear backgrounds or fields of earth-toned colour, are invested with a distinct tactility: multiple layers of watercolour pigment on textured paper lend the paintings a sense of low relief. This technique, of meticulous repetitive actions, results in a meditative engagement with process that adds a psychological depth to Kazim’s work. His protagonists are reservoirs of mystery, absorbed in reverie, in inner places of truth and stillness.

In a new suite of paintings and drawings, Kazim uses Japanese tissue and tracing paper alongside gold leaf and hair in refined explorations of the human body, this time his own. On display is a series of self-portraits alongside delicate abstract compositions that mark a new direction in the artist’s visual language. Untitled drawings represent a study of skin – of membrane and blood vessels – as a barrier between inner and outer worlds. The Dark Clouds are redolent of bodily mass, but also ‘a very hazy but infinitive boundary between physical and spiritual worlds, perhaps the world man has fallen from,’ says the artist.  

Kazim’s paintings include elements of narrative and fantasy, however their primary impulse remains humanistic: to interact with another or to examine the self. Spare, profound and unsentimental, his art effortlessly transforms the quotidian into the metaphysical, drawing on the powerful themes of time, fate and memory, yet making them entirely his own.

Ali Kazim (b.1979, Pattoki) began his career as a circus-hoarding painter in small-town Pakistan, working also with a potter and a woodcarver at this time. His passage to Lahore was made possible by a job as dispenser in a local hospital, populated largely by terminally ill rural patients brought to the big city after local medicine, hope and prayer had failed. Kazim’s portfolio for art school entry in Lahore was life studies of the dying. He has a BFA from the National College of Arts in Lahore and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Kazim’s work was the subject of a mid-career survey exhibition at Cartwright Hall Gallery, Bradford (2007). 

Institutions that have collected Ali Kazim’s work include the British Museum, London; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Burger Collection, Hong Kong. The artist lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan.

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