Zahra Khan on Rough around the edges 2014
Hanmi Gallery’s exposed brick, uneven floorboards and half painted interior form the perfect setting for ‘Rough Around the Edges’. This well organized show is distributed between the three floors of the gallery. It is designed to emphasize the physical rather than the conceptual labour required to create each piece of art. Samar F. Zia has curated this show, and it displays the work of Andreas M. Georgiou, Alia Bilgrami, Asmaa Hashmi, Julian Dams, Mona Choo, Myrianthe Sozou and Zia herself. Located in Fitzrovia, Hanmi gallery is under renovation and while it waits to reopen in Autumn 2014, it opens its doors to young, enterprising artists and innovative curators.
Samar F. Zia’s philosophy behind the show is clear: each piece was selected because of the time-consuming work involved in its creation; each artist was singularly responsible for the completion of his art, from its conception to its exhibition. The necessity of such labour intensive processes is encapsulated in MicroOptasia I,2013, the work of Myrianthe Sozou, where the artist has created a tapestry of shimmering thumbtacks. Working meticulously with individual pieces to create a larger whole, the artist explores the spatiality of sculptures. Zia has placed Mona Choo’s well-lit Web of Consciousness, 2013, next to it, and the glittering interplay of light metal and clear plastic is breathtaking, for Web of Consciousness casts shadows and lights giving the illusion of weightlessness.
To Zia titles are extensions of the work, so the title of the exhibition is appropriately telling. ‘Rough Around the Edges’ signifies the inevitable imperfections of manmade creations. These flaws are further analyzed through her own art. Her well-researched pieces explore man’s meddling in nature. Zia acknowledges that this interference can have both positive and negative results, but to her, nature is a perfect entity and each part of it influences the rest. Zia says she finds the pomegranate to be particularly inspiring – perfectly packed full of hundreds of ruby-red coloured seeds. In Ring, Expanse 2013, her delicate gauze sculptures are of deformed versions of the fruit – the casualties of hormonal additives.
While these artworks are united by their craft-based creative process, not necessarily by the final products, conceptually the art on display is connected, adding to the allure of the show. There is an underlying theme of layering present in each of the works. Each artist has invited the viewer to see through multiple levels of meaning and substance. Both Alia Bilgrami and Asmaa Hashmi work with overlays of material and colour. Hashmi pointed out to me the female genitalia and the feminist symbols that are concealed within the delicate layers of paint in her work He Loves Me Knots, 2013.
Andreas M. Georgiou’s Single Action I, 2013 and Julian Dams’s Dusseldorf Interior, 2013 are other example of layers and reflection. Zia’s curatorial vision is strong throughout this show and ties it all together; she explains that in order to achieve the wild arch of colour in Single Action I, Georgiou uses an enormous spatula and the physical motion of his entire body.