Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz

20 Feb – 29 Mar 2014

Jhaveri Contemporary is pleased to present Active Door, a solo exhibition by Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz. The exhibition opens on the 20th of February and remains on view until the 29nd of March 2014.

Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz’s practice is a poetic response to the exile of the contemplative.The works assembled in Active Door, the artist’s debut solo presentation in India, reflect her increasingly syncretic approach to abstraction and her deepening fascination with metaphysical spatial analogies. Ranging from monumental to intimate in scale, the works on paper that comprise the exhibition unfold within the liberating limitations of geometry and repetition. Through this concise abstract language, Pheobus Mumtaz seeks to pierce the veil of sensory experience and temporality. In other words, her work invokes the archaic in order to speak directly to the present.

If there is one pivotal archetype that animates the work presented in Active Door, it is a canoe afloat on vast, open darkness. Many of Pheobus Mumtaz’s geometric abstractions represent water as an angular visual rhythm; others allude to it through the sensual handmade indigo paper on which the images have been inscribed. The wayfaring vessel that haunts these works is, by nature, fragile and contingent, and yet its reflections offer no sense of drift. Instead, they constellate the boat that must be rowed with other symbolic keys that call for action: an obstacle to face; a door to enter; a ladder to climb; a guide to follow. 

A new suite of drawings depicting prayer beads complements Pheobus Mumtaz’s meditative geometries. Arranged in constellations that mirror the symbolic language of her abstract work, the beads hover gracefully, as if suspended in the illuminated darkness of the night sky. These works attempt to represent contemplative attitudes that animate the activity of prayer. Each string of beads delineates a path through space and time that returns to a point of origin. This cycle is a symbolic reminder of the straight and ascending, yet mysteriously elliptical path of all spiritual effort.

Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz (b.1982) is an American artist best known for her drawing practice. She attended Yale University and later completed her MFA at Columbia’s School of the Arts in New York City. Her recent work is strongly influenced by her experiences in Lahore, Pakistan, where she lived from 2010 to 2011, and her deep interest in traditional arts ranging from tribal textiles to Indian manuscript painting. She is currently based in Charlottesville, Virginia.