The hybridisation of the art gallery allows artists to create authentic, open and explorative experiences for the viewer. Lakir is an emerging multid
The hybridisation of the art gallery allows artists to create authentic, open and explorative experiences for the viewer. Lakir is an emerging multidisciplinary art space that has been initiated by Fatima Faisal Qureshi. It is located inside a private residential property in Faisal Town, Lahore. The main room hosts Abdullah Qureshi’s paintings that are hung close together, side by side and one on top of the other immediately drawing in the viewer. The atmosphere of the exhibition is autonomous and unapologetic as the bright lights of the space unify the paintings as one organism.
This is Fatima’s third curation having previously organised group shows with a keen interest in figuration and representation of the body. Her own painting practice informs her curation and selection of artists. Aware of the complexity of painting as a medium, her intentions are to involve the viewer in the process of art marking and highlighting the pursuit of the self through painting. The solo presentation of Abdullah Qureshi displays 15 new paintings immersed in his visual collection of close observations and responses after experiencing the feelings of isolation caused by the pandemic. The exhibition is titled “Lockdown Lovers” where the artist has chosen to paint faceless solitary figures, some protagonists are mentioned by name and others spend time together as a group. The artist is sharing his reawakening of surprise encountering the human form after a period of aloneness across the two years of the pandemic.
The artist has created large bodies of work over the last decade that evolved from abstraction into representational forms of the body. The introduction of the human figure grounds the work in an intimate landscape with painterly colour fields merging into outlines and silhouettes of figuration. The viewer is invited to join the artist as he traces feelings, thoughts, and memories being recalled in each painting. We slide into the physical space through the gentle transition of line and form that are purposely descending with the ephemeral drips and gestural chromatography.
Time is captured and loosely documented within these paintings as the viewer can trace the daylight pouring into the room in “Vedanth at Clinton Street I” and begin to transition into colours of dusk in “Chris II” eventually turning into a nightscape with “Swimming at 10 pm I & II” duo paintings. Over the years the artist has investigated the painting medium as an access point for formulating a cerebral and emotive vocabulary. The playfulness of scale and the freeing use of paint feel improvisational and spontaneous. In this particular body of work, there is a release and departure from the weighted, solid and opaque colour field that was anchored in enamel paint and strong colour spills.
The opacity of Abdullah’s signature colour-blocking has become ephemeral as he allows the colour to feel multidirectional. The artist has spent a significant period of his life living outside Pakistan studying and working in Europe and North America. His experiences travelling the world have enriched his painting practice. Now residing in Canada, Abdulla is currently teaching and practising art in Toronto. The viewer travels from an interior to exterior space with the artist throughout the series of paintings. He brings together solitary figures within the context of intimate glances and private glimpses rediscovering socialising after the pandemic.
These observations are not meant to feel mysterious but revelatory indicative of the artist’s personal evolution as he reaches a reconciliation between the past and the present. Aggressive splashes and large scale are replaced with softer and gentler figuration binding together forms and colour. As shadows surround the figure in the “Man in the changing room” series as a bold black outline, the subject is illuminated as the surface resembles a watery texture. The painterly transitions are flowing into each other and are joined through blurry representational forms.
Paintings such as “A memory of S. I”, “Conversations in the shower” and “Pics?” have recognisable characters that are open for interpretation by the viewer. Others have narratives with figures that are reclining, the quiet presence of furniture or a pet cat in the foreground. This process of remembering is a part of the artist’s sense of self. These forms are perhaps a reflection of himself that is journalistic, private and reflective. The painting experience is orchestrated to become organic and bodily. Grounded in the realism of observation, the artist carefully balances the abstraction of the figure as a central anchor. Slowly the unravelling of the figure stops being representational and starts to become a field of colour.
Abdulla has been involved in building an art space of his own when he was based in Pakistan and went on to extensively research and develop the conversation around identity politics. The artist’s journey across these various mediums of expression, scholastic pursuits and living in multiple locations has led to informing his gestural painting practice.