A new group show at XVA Gallery brings together artists who work with paper. Jenny Hewett meets them
Paper is a material that transcends culture, language and art. It’s tangible and familiar: we know where it comes from, yet we don’t know what journey it might take and how it will transform. XVA Gallery’s new show, ‘Paper’, features the paper-based works of artists from South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. From simple sketches to artworks carved with knives and painted with ink, here three of the artists explain why paper is their preferred medium.
Imran Channa, Pakistani
Age 31, based in Lahore ‘Memories, series’ ‘Paper has historical significance and a quality of preserving text and images that relate to my idea of investigating history, and it’s also an important object for drawing in the art world. It records the ideas, moments in time and becomes evidence forever. Paper has a nostalgic quality: in our childhood we used it to make toy objects, we did our homework on it, and sometimes we drew images in our notebook. The visual effects in this piece came from my personal experience of a train journey in Lahore: I saw glimpses of a vanishing view through the train window. I realised this idea of capturing the view was similar to my idea of vanishing history. The action of the process of making and erasing is very significant here.’
Debjani Bhardwaj, Indian
Age 40, based in Oman ‘In My Comfort Zone’ ‘Paper is light, fragile and easy to work with. It’s frugal and easily available. Paper-cutting is direct and tactile: it’s about adding value by taking away. This piece, painted with a knife and inks on paper, is about the world of fluff and candy floss, where we want to nestle forever. We are surrounded by unpalatable things, but we are mentally conditioned to stay in this soft, warm, fuzzy place rather than step out and slay the monsters. It was inspired by Muscat, where I live – a quiet, serene, picturesque city where life is beautiful.’
Mohsen Ahmadvand, Iranian
Age 30, based in Tehran ‘Flower and Dog’ ‘Paper is the best medium for showing intricate lines and etchings, which can’t be done with canvas and paints. I love pen and paper – I use montage and collage. I find inspiration in visual culture and I make use of visual resources found in contemporary Iranian life: photographs, cultural symbols, familiar characters mixing with decorative symbols, animals and heroes from literature. In my works, symbolism is the outcome of prohibitions and limitations and I tell my stories through these symbols.’
Exhibition: ‘Paper’ until March 13 at XVA Gallery, DIFC (04 358 5117). Artists: Various. Price: From Dhs3,600.