Watch any casual visitor to Art Dubai as they saunter past Durriya Kazi’s work and you’re bound to observe a double-take. At first glance, the Karachi-born artist’s arresting photographic work, ‘Witness’, appears to depict stark images of two, single war-torn bodies, lying prostrate in the dirt. But while Kazi’s figures do indeed pass reference to the ongoing devastation caused to individuals by the war in Iraq, closer inspection reveals that these are not photographs of actual casualties of war, but ‘generic’ renderings of the many soldiers, civilians and children so far killed in the fighting. More curiously, these are not figures at all, but figurines, cast in clay.
The pair of photographs depict clay figures that were placed in public spaces in Islamabad and left to decay, and were first shown in the inaugural exhibition for the city’s National Art Gallery last year. Powerful and provocative, they are indicative of the high calibre of work on display in Desperately Seeking Paradise, the group show of dedicated Pakistani art.
Galerie Volker Diehl
Berlin-based Chinese artist, Ling Jian, has described his signature portraits as ‘highly evolved human beings’. Photo-realist is another description frequently applied to his depictions – he has captured everyone from Chinese supermodel Lu Yan to Buddha with his brush – but photo-surrealist might be a better moniker.
For Jian’s paintings are slightly fantastical affairs. With their perfectly-formed, strangely smooth, high cheek-boned lovelies they look more like something out of a Second Life-style virtual world than the one we mere mortals inhabit (‘techno-beauties’ they have also, rather appropriately, been called).
They are also deeply and pervasively unsettling, so it’s no real surprise to learn that, far from celebrating the vacuity of cosmetic perfection, the aim of this carefully considered Buddhist artist is to hold a mirror up to today’s consumerist pursuit of such a dream.
Funny how some of them bear a striking resemblance to one Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice…
To call Jitesh Kallat’s work arresting is an understatement. Anyone who fashions a life-size rickshaw from simulated dinosaur bones (‘Autosaurus Tripos’), as Kallat did for China’s inaugural art fair, ShContemporary, in 2007 is banging a drum pretty loudly to be heard.
And heard Kallat’s voice has certainly been. His life-size meditation on death, extinction and decay sold for US $125,000 last year and the artist has since developed the idea, remodelling it into a car, its message still coming through loud and clear.
Vehicles are a recurring theme in the Mumbai-based artist’s work, whose previous exhibitions have included Rickshawpolis, in which a meditation on his home city’s gridlocked streets was brought to life in the strict confines of the gallery space, and 365 Lives, featuring a room-sized installation made up of images of – you guessed it – 365 banged-up cars. Transport and the urban violence caused by rush-hour on a city’s mean streets – something tells us that Kallat’s work will have a particular resonance with the citizens of Dubai.