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Artist Adeel uz Zafar said he is currently examining his unfinished works at a solo show at Canvas Gallery, taking the audience through the artistic process and how the concept of definition influences an artist’s creative process.
The show, titled ‘Unrealized’ and which opened on Tuesday, will run until October 27.
The title and theme of the show is specifically unique as it takes us through the artist’s body of work and thought process instead of showing us a collection of completed or perfected works.
At that, it also leaves us to question what defines a complete or finished piece of work, opening to debate why these were now chosen to be exhibited, that too collectively.
The curatorial note explains this notion, stating: “In unpacking the term ‘unrealized’, it investigates both the often-invisible labor of artistic process, as well as the conceptual trajectory that artists evoke in their own minds as a light that guides them on their lifelong paths of creative discovery and problem solving.”
Commenting on his solo show, Zafar, also a curator and educator, said it as a way of showcasing his entire journey and means of connecting with his audiences further, through examining the fluidity of his works.
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“Process is a very important aspect of any artist’s work and trajectory. When you look at an artist’s work at an exhibition or a museum, those are realised, finished works. Little is known about what has gone on behind that process, or what was the artist’s thought process was while constructing a specific image, or works that were left undeveloped,” he told Business Recorder.
“I think this show talks about all these processes while you work. Often, there are a lot of things in one’s head, that do not materialise, things you start, and then leave unfinished thinking you will revisit it at a later time.”
On unfinished works that are revisited years later, he mentioned how an artist’s work truly never really is finished, leaving one to question the notion of completion. He also mentions that these changes can be technical or conceptual in nature.
The show also examines the theme of past, present and future, and what has connected these phases, at this particular point in time. The curatorial note states: “In returning to older works, particularly those never exhibited, or even perhaps executed, this body of work seeks new directions, making connections evident, and rendering the invisible visible. Zafar thus comes to extend the boundaries of art making and practice through time and space, through the material and immaterial, blurring the boundaries between making and unmaking, in navigating through these complex and nuanced fields. Again and again, he brings us back to ideas of process, and the value both assigned (or unassigned) and embedded within this, and in doing so allows the audience an entry point to engage with his own practice through a methodology that offers transparency versus opacity, continuum versus conclusion.”
The result is a collection then of Zafar’s artistic process through the years, re-imagined.
In a previous conversation with Business Recorder, Zafar mentioned how he examines and reviews his own body of work, trying to even make sense of his own progression and trajectory.
This exhibit, fittingly, does just that.
The works throughout the years, comprising prints, oil paintings, sculptures, even a collection of the artist’s props through the years – Zafar’s instantly recognisable works comprise of drawing bandaged, stuffed animals – a selection of which are on display at the gallery.
Part of the collection is also a series of works that was termed as ‘rejected’ displayed in a series of prints, all identical to another, hung from the ceiling to show its breadth and volume, evoking the theme of repetition and perfection.
Zafar speaks about this element of repetition citing how at this point in time he is able to recognise it as an element within his work, regardless of concept, technique and colour palette.
The curatorial note states: “The works within this section challenge notions of both the idea of control as well as that of the sameness that is generally conceived of when thinking of the act of repetition.’ The selection, then, in this current context, ‘lead us into new directions, arrived at through processes of revisiting and re-imagining that which remained previously unrealized…”
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When asked why he chose to display these pieces and processes now, in the form and with the works chosen, Zafar said, “I think its high-time within my artistic career, to showcase these things, mainly because my audiences understand and recognise me through a certain signature style, not realising what’s gone on behind that signature style – spanning works and processes they may not have seen. I have done illustrations, conventional paintings and more that audiences may not necessarily know about.
“I think this is the right time to present an entire body of this process to audiences, in one cohesive space, so that they too know what went behind myself arriving at the position I am in today.”
The exhibit, which has amalgamated and created an entirely new body of work from unrealised works are interesting as they take us through the years of his art process, also providing collectors access to early works and works that were either discarded or in progress, re-imagined in an entirely new form.