Art Dubai Modern

17 Mar – 22 Mar 2014

Anwar Jalal Shemza

Already an established artist in Pakistan, Anwar Jalal Shemza arrived in Britain in the 1950s to study at the Slade. His experience in Britain, marked by an existential crisis, led him to abandon all that he had done before and look for a new direction and language  - one which would embrace modernism and take account of his cultural identity. 

A series of paintings simply titled Square Composition ( 1963 ) explore abstraction, geometry and pattern - the basis of much traditional Islamic art - towards modernist exploration. 24 x 24 inches in size, the paintings based on circles and squares would provide Shemza with a set of infinite yes flexible building blocks. He notes in Urdu “ A circle – a square – a puzzle – for which a lifetime is not enough.”  Such a disciplined, formalist, practice based on geometry is remarkable for a South Asian artist. The strict format also allowed him to explore colour in a new way. Shemza’s earlier monochrome work gave way to rich and vibrant colour in this series.

Recent exhibitions of Shemza’s works in London have focussed on calligraphic abstraction and his interest in the British landscape.  This will be the first presentation of this remarkable series of paintings.

Download List of Works