Ali Kazim

03 Nov – 12 Nov 2016


Jhaveri Contemporary is delighted to present Ruins by Ali Kazim at Asian Art in London. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and features new work he has created and developed over the past three years. 

Best known for his enigmatic portraits and explorations of the human body, Kazim, in this new exhibition titled Ruins, draws upon the landscape outside of Lahore. Once a part of the flourishing Indus Valley Civilisation (circa 3000 BCE to 1500 BCE), the now desolate landscape is dotted with ancient mounds and strewn with terracotta shards from a distant past. Today it serves as a burial site for local communities.  

Using a restrained palette and dramatic shifts in scale, Kazim maps the contours of the land onto a monumental quadriptych whilst simultaneously zooming into a careful observation of pottery shards that lie on its surface in Ruins I and Ruins II.  Here Kazim relies upon his preferred medium of watercolour, which he uses in a personal, highly idiosyncratic way—applying layers of pigment onto textured paper before washing the paper in a shallow bath. Each wash removes as well fixes the colour, giving his works a depth and texture belying the qualities of transparency for which watercolour is best known. 

In stark contrast to the unchanging landscape is the constantly changing weather pattern of the Punjab plains. Billowing dust clouds and startling atmospheric transformations that appear before the onset of the monsoon are carefully observed in the Storm series. Several works in this series are made using dry pigment on mylar. The complete absence of visible brushstrokes captures, paradoxically, the intense ‘presentness’ of the region’s weather, with its rapid movement and mutability. 

A final part of the exhibition is Fallen Objects (2016)—an installation of ceramic objects that seeks to recreate the physicality of the terrain. Made in rudimentary gas kilns, Kazim carefully shapes individual stones—some are smooth and worn, whilst others are covered with arteries and veins, reminiscent of human organs. In this subtle way, Kazim embeds the human presence into the landscape, thus fusing his past preoccupations with current ones.