Process as painting
Ayesha Siddiqui's subjective seeing
Ayesha Siddiqui, a Pakistani painter given to abstract tendency, delves deep into our collective psyche where lies our thirst for translating the visual world in patterns unfamiliar and forms spontaneous. Through compositions that want to break free of the conventional logic, through which we perceive space and form, she elicits a sensibility that straddles the line between rationality and irrationality.
In her recent solo entailed 'Overloaded,' in the majority of her works, evocative lines and forms are set against a backdrop that sometimes seems to recede from the accompanying elements to create a sense of depth, or so it seems to the human eye, and occasionally jumps off the canvas to grab our attention. Some of her works hinges on a neatly threaded compositional template, a characteristic that heightens subtlety of the created space, while others appear rough and fluid to evidence her emotive response to nature. Her formal language ranges from disciplined abstraction to a loose agglomeration of washes and stains, perhaps to emphasize the process. And while attending to the emotions the works spark, viewers are sure to understand her language as an intimation of her state of being vis-à-vis nature, but which also is way, at least from the art historical point of view, for her to issue forth paintings as a process.
Siddiqui's works combine a range of emotional response to the natural world drawn from an intentionally limited spectrum of subjective interpretations and readings to emphasize her personalized vision. The geometrical forms, or lines of varied thicknesses, layers of colour are made noticeable only to lend verisimilitude to her unique vision, which derives from nature skirting round the severity of its physical aspect. What is physical in her domain is the paint itself, which at times are made thick to reveal the process.
Her mixed media works are clearly a homage to European abstractionists with a spiritual slant as they, like the works of the artists she is beholden to, create a climate of mysticism.
Amidst the worldly hubbub which we often find difficult to turn away from, she infuses the natural/social environment, or what we accept as reality, with a sense of the unreal in the most subtle way possible. It is due to the mediation of formalism that she seems quite preoccupied with shapes and lines at the first viewing; once the layers of the formal means – through which she achieves her goal – are removed, there appears an artist who addresses the mysterious and shadowy topography that resides right under the surface of the sensuous world.
Media plays a very important role in her mode of expression, as does an urbane understanding of the visual language. Most of her paintings carry vague and blurred forms brought into view as part of her search for an approximate interpretation of her experience, and as far as her visual technique is concerned, she, as a rule, juxtaposes one layer of absent marks or lines against the presence of a fluid and atmospheric layer of paint. Thus a tension between the two is created. Still, her works rarely appeal to human unconscious as they follow a well-defined pathway, though an alternate one set by the artist.
As the works offer images of a consciously built unconscious realm, viewing rarely gives way to any other form of response asides from the visual one. However, the floating geometric shapes or lines that invoke architecture or built environment, the rhythmic patterns she is able to create, in the final equation, initiate a kinetic tension.
Her mute, unobtrusive colours also accentuate the fact that the artist is inclined to rumination, and all that she musters in the form of abstract paintings is making visible the traces of her memory or of experience that has lost their relevance in real life but are worth recollecting in solitude. This makes her a romantic who has so far been able to move away from the naturalist mode of production in favour of a new language of formalism.
She titles all of her works 'Untitled', which is an emphatic play on absence, adequately demonstrating her inner logic based on rational-emotional thinking. All of her paintings have a correlation to the external reality; all of them make us think about the artist's intense power of observation. However, in the end, what one gets closer to is the map of the psyche that attempts at connecting to the world through an established mode of art.
If her oeuvre presented at Drik gallery is the only cue, we can assume that serenity as well as transmutability of nature is her mainstay. In painting such as 'Untitled-VI, where two black vertical lines are juxtaposed against a horizontal one with a splash of green in the backdrop – the elements are spontaneously thread into an image that denotes a state surrender vis-à-vis nature. Things for her come full circle only when the noumenon of nature is dovetailed with the physical phenomenon of the painted surface.
'Overloaded', organized by the High Commission of Pakistan, was held at Drik Gallery, from September 30th to October 4th 2010.