14 Sep – 05 Nov 2011
Make Me a Black Hole and I Will Believe You
Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq is one of the bold new voices in contemporary British art. His work fuses modernity and tradition, a marriage traditional (almost de rigeur) in art. But Ashfaq is unique in that, chiasmically, his modernity lies in the sleekness of the so-called space-age and that his tradition is (among other things) the timeless reservoir of Islamic philosophy.
Ashfaq’s formal training was in painting, but he has gravitated, so to speak, towards sculpture over the years. Geometrical fascinations are as present in two dimensions – in the drawings, for instance – as they are in the sculptural installations of the present show. In Ashfaq's work, lines and planes – whether explicitly drawn, implicitly evoked, or deterministically imagined – meet. How do they connect, dissect, intersect? With an accuracy that emphasizes, above all, the power of Euclidean simplicity and perfection; the monochromes serve only to intensify the angular sharpness. Ashfaq’s art illustrates and celebrates the paradoxical unities of (and in) art: the new is the old, the fanciful is the old-fashioned. The gleam of the merely technical is juxtaposed with allusions to a world of art that is or was uninhibited by tritely futuristic visions. These allusions: explicit on occasion but more often poker-facedly covert, are an essential dimension of Ashfaq’s work.
Whether displayed on a wall or seen in three dimensions, this is art that is deceptively simple. That is, until you see the millions of unwavering lines, so careful and so precise and yet somehow imbued with the inevitability of tradition, precise lines and shapes that radiate to create surfaces and shapes. In Mohammed Ashfaq’s body of work, and in this show, we see angularity and abstraction meeting finitude and reality: and that is what we celebrate in these magnificent pieces on display.