One word that primarily describes this entire series is the use of the word “Illegible” which seems to be a rather encumbered word on its own when it comes to describe abstract art. The title of the solo show at Koel by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqui, leaves its audiences searching for legibility mainly because it is human nature to search and hope to find something identifiable especially when the show itself has been labelled as being beyond reach.
The body of work comprised of life size canvases along with mixed media on paper. The mixed media includes oils, paints, chemicals and acrylics. Throughout the series, there was the use of technique similar in execution and style for both paper and canvas. Embossed shapes, lines, geometry and patterns inherent to the textured paper, perhaps fulfilling the sadistic intention of distracting the viewer from the attempts of legibility dominated the images created on paper. The mixed media on paper provided an interesting contrast to the enormous canvases which absorbed that same technique but with a different texture to it, leaving most of the mixed media on paper, to be viewed behind a glass with a neat frame surrounding it.
An intensely bright use of yellows in the triptych Untitled 15 dominated the room while an entire canvas on the left dominated the same space with its overpowering ‘grid’. The intense yellow on the right canvas balances the left canvas which incorporates the arresting grid, leaving a matching yellow circular element in the centre canvas on an intensely black base thereby striking a delicate balance.
An up-close and personal view of the much mysterious “Grid” is seen in Untitled 16, mixed media on paper. This lays out the furtive grid in a close-up view to give the much perplexed viewer a breather. The highly energized elements continue to present themselves in various forms.
The artist’s unrelenting captivation with geometric patterns, mainly the grids and the rectangular shapes, referred to as the script’ create a unique dynamism in the space. In her last exhibition in 2016 which was titled “Camouflage”, presence of the grid seemed to have an omnipotent presence which called for attention, whilst leaving the mind to resolve the indecipherable and illegible to a great degree. One stark difference however seems to be the colour palette which comprised camouflage tones with accents of bold colours, merging in their vibrancy, flaunting the bright splashes of oranges , blues , greens and yellows amongst other hues. Her past paintings of intangible landscapes fall squarely in line with this approach of bold, intense colour palette which flirted with the swaying trees and meadows tied in with outspoken brush strokes for shapes and forms.
Whilst in conversation with Dr. Ayesha Siddiqui regarding her solo show “Illegible”, it became apparent that geometrical shapes and scripts were some of the most intentional elements in giving this series an indecipherable impression. This fascination with geometry in design was the main character of her series, becoming apparent in not only the presence of grids and rectangles of various sizes and intensity but also, in the form and consistency of the splatter of paint itself.
The indecipherable splatter and splashes along with the flow of paint over the canvas and paper seemed to be a reminder of Jackson Pollock’s splashes, to which, Ayesha Siddiqui audibly disagreed, saying how Pollock’s work comprised primarily of “dripping the paint on canvas” whereas her work incorporated more of geometrical intent behind all the elements with splatters controlled with varying fluidity and sharpness of the medium being used.
It however may be interesting to note that even if the geometrical intent is not verbalised, the very nature of this abstract series will leave open the path for multiple perceptions which every viewer brings to the table as soon as they get engaged in viewing of a piece. Interpretation of the grid itself is also a highly plausible scenario, just as the looming blacks in shadows and shapes can be interpreted as distraught, abstract human figures. When asked if this was the intention of these abstract creations, the artist replies with a “not at all”. For the artist it seems to be significantly about the focus on geometrical design element. The textured paper used for the mixed media also leaves the possibility of distracting the viewer who ends up trying to give a shot at “deciphering’. It is indeed important to mention that the talk of scripts, deciphering, unlocking the unreadable, leaves one with a Déjà vu of the mysterious elements portrayed in the Di Vinci Code.