In this era of new media and digital approach of execution, the simplest form proves to be the strongest in an artwork. Far from the traditional approach of paintings, exaggerated forms of sculptures and detailed story-telling, there is an opposite approach to simplicity yet creating so what similar impression. The language of visuals is merely an artists' decision whether it's detailed miniature or a video installation as long as it's narrating the intended context to the audience. When it brings an artist towards a choice of context, there is no limitation of exploring outer surroundings as well as inner connotations. It can be a dialogue between the two aspects. Sajjad Ahmed's work is a portrayal of such amalgamation within intimate and external. The contrast between the two brings it to one common ground of existence which is a narrative of his work.
Born in 1982, Wah Cantt, Punjab, and graduated from Beacon house National University, Sajjad is now based in Karachi and has been practising for a decade. His visual vocabulary constantly addresses the relationships between texts, everyday imagery and a slightly traditional approach towards painting with geometrical patterns. Most of his work is consist of digital prints and mono chancel videos in two-dimensional forms. His illusionary approach while including text in his work creates an impact of taking the audience to experience the addressed settings. There is a certain boldness with specific minimalism in his work which narrates his chosen paradoxes. One can experience the history behind words executed with lines and context. He has been addressing art history, semiotics, globalization and economic through his straightforward imagery of vast variability. In a recent solo exhibition ‘Spirit of Visual' at Sanat Gallery, Sajjad Ahmed's work is an exemplification of such method. This exhibit has showcased 18 pieces of work in which Ahmed has explored several mediums.
"Being & Nothingness (XVIII)", Inkjet print on photo-matte paper, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
"A Capitalist Dream", Inkjet print on canvas, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
With a subtlety in his imagery, he has addressed a variety of context including economics and urbanization. His piece ‘A Capitalism Dream', inkjet print on canvas depicting a faceless portrait of a supposed leader with markings on the face and ‘The Spirit of Capitalism', inkjet print on canvas portraying an extremely well-ordered compilation of shipping containers in a two-dimensional square is an honest statement towards our economic certainties. One can experience the depth of this chosen context with considerate simplest imagery. There is an honesty of opinion without any fabrication in these two artworks. His other work portrays a different notion of several contexts with extreme paradoxes as well as subtle yet ingenious forms.
"The Spirit of Capitalism (I)", Inkjet print on photo-matte paper, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
In Ahmed's other series of work, he has also explored his visual language through texts. ‘I had that interest in the relationship between text and image from very early in practice. The text is part of the content in my work, both in form (inside) and title (outside),' says Ahmed. In his artwork ‘Always Forever Now (IV)', a triptych in inkjet print on photo-matte paper, his relationship with text and its content is apparent. The text in between straight lines creating an illusion in red, blue and green and depicting a circumstantial depth of its own content for the audience. This piece is a bold conversation with all of its delicacy and extremity. Contrast and paradoxes are apparent in his practice while serving as a meeting point in all of his context.
"Being & Nothingness (XXV)", Acrylic and oil on canvas, paper, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
"Being & Nothingness (XXII)", Inkjet print on photo-matte paper, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
"Being & Nothingness (XV)", Inkjet print on canvas, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
In the Being and Nothingness series XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV and XXV, there is a similar yet different approach of execution including traditional painting and inkjet prints on photo matte paper. The title has borrowed from philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's book which is considerably a phenomenological essay on Ontology, can be considered a philosophical connection of his work. In this series of Ahmed's works, the paradox of existence and death is unmistakable. There is a contrast of straightforward reality and ambiguous abstraction. The manifestation of two reverses with all of its simplest complexities take the audience to another wonder. With all of its differences and minimalism, there is a subtle similarity in forms. In Being and Nothingness XV, XVIII and XXI, there is direct imagery of seascapes and skyscapes aligned with the abstraction of similar forms in Being and Nothingness XXIII, XXIV and XXV in which one witness geometrical shapes/lines. In this contradictory method, there is an element of exploration of medium and imagery.
"Being & Nothingness (XV)", Mono channel video, infinite (duration) loop, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
‘Heaven and Earth II', a mono channel video portraying inhaling and exhaling clouds is another approach towards connotation of life and death. This piece can be counter-related with his series ‘Being and Nothingness' with a similar yet altered perspective. Unlike addressing globalization and economics, this piece has a connection with one's own existence while connecting it with the physicality of life itself. ‘The idea of living experience and a promised world has always caught my eye. The experience of life in this world and the idea of a promised life heavily rely on the notions of existentialism and religion, in the order of discussion' quoted Ahmed in his publication of retrospective by Sanat publications. This publication is consist of his monographs covering a decade of his practice published by Sanat publications.
"Heaven and Earth II ", Mono channel video, infinite (duration) loop, Edition of 5+2 AP, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
Sajjad Ahmed's body of work is an overall dialogue between several realities of life itself, circumstantial realities, the existence of a personal being and connection with contradictions. His work addresses paradoxes of abstraction and simple complexities at the same time. He has depicting such complexities with extreme simplicity in his visuals. His work is determined by this process which involves photography, digital alteration and working with software/electronics. This show will continue until 21st December 2017 at Sanat gallery, Karachi.
"Being & Nothingness (XIX)", Acrylic and oil on canvas, paper, 2017. Image courtesy of the Sanat Gallery, Karachi.
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