Drawing Form (2009)
Imran Mudassar, as one example, has used his drawing ability to extraordinary and powerful effect. He has drawn human bodies onto photographs of walls pockmarked by bullets, mortar shells and other such damage inflicted on the built environment during the course of urban warfare. The photographs alone, taken in Kabul - even without their dramatic embellishments – speak eloquently of great violence and harm done. Each bullet hole, each fractured and damaged piece of cement work or masonry is in effect a scar, mark, or pitted area disfiguring the surface. But it is people, rather than merely buildings, which define and populate the built environment and whilst the unadorned photographs imply savagery and indiscriminate killing unleashed on humanity, the victims of urban warfare, are themselves absent. Imran Mudassar attends to this absence by drawing human bodies exquisitely onto these photographs.
In so doing Mudassar creates works of great beauty and terrifying violence. There is dignity, humanity, and – I use the word again – beauty in the male bodies he draws. Yet these are bodies torn apart, damaged, mutilated, destroyed by having been juxtaposed with the most brutal urban scarification created in the wake of a hail of bullets or the exploding of bombs. Mudassir creates for us the realities of a large number of missiles hurled forcefully through the air, with intent to cause indiscriminate damage. The artist brings to our attention the men, women, children killed, maimed, brutalised, and traumatised in the course of urban warfare. And yet other, perhaps more personal narratives emerge from Mudassir's work. Alongside these graphic displays or enactments of violence is an almost tangible sense of loss.
We might ordinarily think that access to someone's journal or diary entries might offer us the most privileged access into that someone's private or personal world. Yet when Iranian artist Neda Razavipour uses the pages of a dated journal as paper surfaces on which to draw, she produces enigmatic, poignant studies that lead us to all manner of intriguing, cryptic and open-ended considerations and suppositions. Her drawings come inscribed with the Iranian language of Farsi, thereby intensifying the sense of intrigue surrounding the images. Farsi readers might well be able to avail themselves of certain pointers or clues when looking at these works; but the formidable impression exists that literal understanding of the text will avail the reader little or nothing. The text exists almost as an additional cryptic layer of meaning or understanding. These are, after all, studies that despite their graphic nature and element of social and political reportage, have meanings that are ultimately enigmatic or obscured.
There is a profound sense of exploration - that is, the action of traveling in or through the familiar, the unfamiliar, the different, and the unusual, in order to learn about it - that resonates throughout this exhibition. In that regard, these artists are possessed of both purpose and ability. The drawings of Mudassar, Razavipour, and the other artists represented in Drawing Form are sophisticated, multi-layered and highly skilful renderings that succeed in prompting us to consider all manner of relationships and engagement that they and we, might have with the world around us. We have much to thank, admire and respect these artists for.
The full version of the above text appeared in the brochure to accompany the exhibition 'Drawing Form', Green Cardamom, London, 20 November, 2009 – 22 January 2010.
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