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Ruins

Ali Kazim, the internationally renowned artist, is once again working his magic with a dramatic new show at Rossi & Rossi, in conjunction with Jhaveri Contemporary (Mumbai) as part of the annual London Asian Art Week.The show titled “Ruins” features new works which he has developed over the past three years.

Stepping into the intimate space of Rossi & Rossi gallerythe viewer is transported into the forgotten past of Pakistan. One wall is dedicated to a monumental quadriptych. In this painting, Kazim maps the contours of the land using dramatic shifts in scale and a restricted palette whilst simultaneously drawing in the viewer with his observational study of the pottery shards that are scattered across this breath-taking landscape. The careful study of the landscape is further exhibited in the paintings Ruins I and Ruins II.

Kazim’s individual style of using watercolour allows him to express the feeling of a forgotten past. He applies layers and layers of paint onto textured paper before washing the paper in a shallow bath, and then layering with paint and washing again several times. This repeated process not only removes any excess paint but also gives his paintings a luminosity and depth.

In contrast to his portrayal of the unchanging landscape are his paintings of the changing weather patterns of the Punjab plains. The Storm series are a careful observation of the onslaught of the dust clouds and the billowing winds that take place just before the onset of the monsoon. Here Kazim experiments with dry pigment on Mylar paper. Brush strokes are absent in this work. This complete absence conveys the very nature of the region’s constant state of flux. When standing in front of the quadriptych, the viewer gets the sense that they are in the precise moment before the stillness is about to disrupted abruptly.

The final part of the exhibition is titled “Fallen Objects”. This is an installation that recreates the physical aspects of the terrain that Kazim has investigated in his paintings. The objects have been shaped lovingly and each shape has been created individually. Some shapes are extremely smooth, some are worn whilst others are wrapped in veins and arteries reminding one of human organs.

There is a sense of tranquility in Kazim’s work as he pays his respect to a past forgotten. His work reminds us to remember the past and learn from the mistakes made by our ancestors, an apt message in this period of populism and rejection of social progress across the world.

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