Classical traditions of figurative painting use anatomically precise drawing techniques, complex compositions that optically manipulate the
Classical traditions of figurative painting use anatomically precise drawing techniques, complex compositions that optically manipulate the viewer capturing their curiosity paving a path into the subliminal and psychological plane of the artwork. Line and form have been the building blocks of figurative painting for centuries. The concept of a life model or muse would often be seated under a controlled light source for multiple sessions until preparatory sketches were complete and then the embellishment of various visual acronyms were commissioned into the final painting. The historical evolution of portraiture traversed the political, the socially complex, and even the historical archival eras, to this day lending their influence to modern figurative painting. The contemporary practice in contrast is introspective, private and personal. The artist chooses to strip down any hierarchy, prestige or traditionalism using reductive elements such as de-cluttering the background flattening the depth of field to focus on the figure.
Komail Aijazuddin has showcased with Khaas Art Gallery 2013 and later in 2015. He has spent his formative years studying Art & Art History from New York University, New York to pursue an MFA from the Pratt Institute graduating in 2010. Since then he has developed an independent practice both in the USA and Pakistan. This year Aijazuddin’s third solo show will be held at the newly revamped Khaas Contemporary. Aijazuddin’s art practice can be described as a symposium of the colour red. His tailored figurative subjects are positioned and posed within gentle painterly strokes that play with line and direction. The rendering of the skin has evolved from graphic monotone, realistic tones to gradients to bright blue hues paired with pale white highlights. This can be seen in this collection of paintings like “Icon: Aureate” and “Altar: Simurgh” showcasing a more personalised visualisation of the human condition. What surfaces from these paintings is a state of ambivalence compartmentalised and constricted within the thin graphic black lines tracing the edges of these protagonists. The ten paintings together are reminiscent of a broken film reel from Aijazuddin’s life. A current of gilded gold motifs that have etched birds in flights flowing into a formation with each painting in the gallery space leading to a centrally placed muralistic piece called “Altar: Birds of Paradise”.
The recognisably South Asian handcrafted embroidered motifs adorn the Sarri and Sherwani purposely leaving the background in an infinite red colour field and faceless figures gathering in the distance while in “Bird of Paradise II”, the viewer senses the gold tapestry slipping away as it glides into the background revealing the subject’s silhouette. These emotional, youthful displays of everyday life have the upholstery taking on the gold leaf stencil. Perhaps Aijazuddin is inviting us to focus on his immediacy and ephemerality of portraits within the realm of his red stage.
These portraits have melancholia and vacant expressions that seem to be competing with the glamourous gold and high Eastern fashion surrounding them. Where there once a series of gold leaf highlighted deities, saints and flux of monotheistic symbolism has been replaced with flirtation expressed through drapery of clothes, tense form-fitted sherwani, gilded upholstery that demystifies the picture plane choosing to focus on an investigation into intimacy and relationships. With his rich academic background in Art History, extensively showcased collections worldwide and travelling between two continents, the artist has developed large bodies of work that cover a range of theoretical, pictorial and cultural ideas. Some recurring symbols have travelled with Aijazuddin and those he has chosen to forgo over the years mark his ability to alter his style and technique.
The Hand of Fatima also known as Khamsa can be seen repeated here as a gold seal in the mixed media on a wooden panel piece titled “Alter”. Much like a synchronised formation of migrant birds this collection of paintings signal a change in the artist unravelling, emerging and expressing emotive and conversational artworks. In his paintings, the men and women are idealised with greek profiles and muscular shoulders and the women are intense, poised and unphased. The masculine and the feminine displayed in front of the bright luminescent red can be read as vulnerable, reflective and indifferent. The drama unfolds as we walk past each painting turning in every direction trying to figure out the plotting and scheming happening between and across the collection of works. The sinister depictions of intimacy in paintings like “Touch”, “Flight” and “Altar: Intended” leave the viewer closely examining the scene. Aijazuddin is inviting the viewer to speculate, deduce and decipher clues and fragments purposely sections of unfinished figuration creating space for interpretations, interaction and play. The exhibition at Khaas Contemporary will continue till June 2021.
The gallery is located at the address IFWA House, Street 38, Sector F-7/1 in Islamabad