Look up, to the great
Big ball in the sky and know.
It is bigger than
Your eyes inform you.
As artists we continually challenge ourselves; forcing ourselves to question, to delve deeper. This incessant struggle is what helps us to evolve, encourages our work to progress, and allows us to confront our past self.
Similarly, through his first solo exhibition held at Sanat, upcoming artist, Faraz Aamer Khan brings the viewer twenty-one new works that greatly challenge his previous pieces. The artist explains that this exhibition came as result of a need to challenge his capability as an artist. Consequently, production of this series began half a year ago an d all the pieces were started and worked on concurrently.
Khan’s concerns lie with resonance and a reflection of the universe which he has brought forward through this exhibition. Multiple views of the same sky are used and it is through this most relatable human experience of the atmosphere that his inquest into our existentialism peers through. The immeasurable firmament that is reduced by our visual capability to almost basic tints, shapes and a non-existent horizon line is what informs the imagery of the work.
A recent graduate from the National College of Arts, Khan is trained with the aesthetic of Indo-Persian miniature but his interest also lies with music. In the center of the gallery lies his video installation entitled, ‘Resonance’ which he credits as a somewhat starting point to the rest of the pieces. Made a few years ago, the visuals of the video (which are bass guitar strings) resulted and move in unison with the accompanied sound, which he also produced. This installation engages the viewer’s sense of sight and hearing and envelopes them in a novel state of temporal resonance. Here the senses witness two frequencies reverberating in tandem.
Though the works, previous and present, follow a similar tangent, one of the most notable differences is the massive downscale. Large charcoaled canvases are now (physically) reduced to delicately minimal and occasionally illustrative paintings of the sky. There is a sense of struggle the pieces exhume, a struggle to express the matter painted, to understand its meaning beyond the two-dimensional surface which it inhabits. This exertion is passed down from one painting to the next eventually explaining themselves in unison once the viewing is concluded.
‘We are the universe experiencing itself’.
We are but a tiny part of it and what we see and understand of this space is limited by our thoughts, our minds and our vision. The small black framed pieces hung at eye level on the whitewashed gallery walls are reminiscent of window sills and as we gaze through to the outside world, we realize that just like the abridged size of these renderings, our understanding of the vast space surrounding us is minute in comparison to its actual enormity.
Through the colours and shapes that cover the exhibition, there is a perception of calmness; a stillness of the transcendent without the fear of what is to come. With each piece different views of the same sky are looked at; from the clouds hovering over the sea to momentary gleams of the sun and moon, to a moment where both day and night rule the heavens and then a time when neither do, leaving the sky colourless. The sphere appears, sometimes watching over the waters and skies, and sometimes enclosing it all within its parameter. The paintings slowly break down as they progress, simplifying the firmament until it has nothing left to show but a transition of hues on the paper. The colours shift; from shades of black, to a momentary touch of the golden light to the melancholic sky, creating a spectrum in between. Ultimately, however, the paintings slowly piece themselves up again, zooming out and focusing on the same landscape the work starts with, all moving along a parallel frequency.
The curation of the pieces is rather intelligent on the part of the artist. As the viewer moves around according to the order of placement, they move in a similar circular motion, which not only coincides with the spherical imagery of the pieces, but also the artist’s quest for the boundless sky, almost drawing out the same shape with their movement. Just like a circle that has no beginning or end, so also are the heavens; limitless, eternal, perpetual. This, in effect, may have been unintentional but truly adds to the success of the work.
With inspirations like Nasreen Mohamedi and Lala Rukh, it comes as no surprise that Khan speaks to the viewer with such minimal mark-making. Searching for answers through various mediums allows him to continuously go back to the question from several angles without the pressure of a complete piece. The almost effortless depictions disinter a more genuine response of his confrontation and through their finality question even that. The works capture the ephemerality of these moments and in the process seems to suggest that what is actually transitory is our awareness of them.
 Alan Watts, British philosopher and writer.