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Friday, 26 July 2013

Exhibitions update: An entire universe within the human soul

"Inspired by the work of the 13th century Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, ‘What does the vessel contain, that the river does not’ is a traditional fishing boat from Kerala, India that measures over 20 metres and straddles the entire stretch of the gallery [at Hauser and Wirth]. The boat is filled from bow to stern with chairs, beds, window frames, fishing nets, plastic jars, cans, an old radio, cooking pots and pans, suitcases and a bicycle.

The ancient Sufi philosophy embedded in Rūmī‘s poetry speaks eloquently about the idea of the microcosm – the containing of an entire universe within the human soul. With this large-scale work, Subodh Gupta too creates a microcosm containing one person’s entire existence, bundled together and crammed into a vessel which appears as if it is about to set sail. For the artist, this boat ceases to be just a simple mode of transportation, but has evolved into an extension of the greater paradigm of survival, sustenance and livelihood."

Gupta’s suitcases, sleeping bags and cardboard boxes, cast in aluminium, feature in Trade Routes (also at Hauser and Wirth). Rūmī also features here in tapestries by Rachid Koraïchi which are suspended from the main gallery’s ceiling, hanging just above the heads of visitors. "The tapestries chronicle the lives of 14 great mystics of Islam, such as the poet Rūmī, whose writings the artist believes are just as relevant in today’s society as they were in the 13th century. The tapestries are covered in ornate Arabic calligraphy and ciphers from a range of other cultures, as well as symbols imagined by the artist." Adel Abidin’s three channel video installation ‘Three Love Songs’ "brings to the forefront the underlying cultural friction and political tension by creating an uncomfortable juxtaposition between the sexualised performance, replete with Western clichés, and the meaning of the ... odes dedicated to the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein." Gülsün Karamustafa's Double Jesus and the Baby Antelope is "a collage of carpets adorned with images of Jesus, a chase scene and a leopard-patterned bed cover, all collected by the artist from the households of migrants new to Istanbul and reassembled into a textile collage."

"‘Stream -10, 1984 – 2013, London’, one of Takesada Matsutani’s largest works, is a 10-metre sheet of paper which the artist covers in a blanket of graphite, leaving just one thin white line coursing through the middle of the paper. Matsutani then completes the work by throwing turpentine over the edge of the dense surface, quickly dissolving the graphite in a tremendous surge of energy and an act of cathartic liberation." ‘A Matrix’ at Hauser and Wirth "features never before seen paintings from Matsutani’s early career, as well as recent organic abstractions in vinyl glue and graphite."

Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings and Prints by Leon Underwood can currently be seen at the Redfern Gallery. Underwood studied life drawing at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. "He also became a founder member of the Seven and Five Society. He began teaching at the RCA in 1920 and opened the Brook Green School of Drawing at his studio the following year. Among his students were Eileen Agar, Gertrude Hermes and Henry Moore. Underwood travelled extensively throughout his life, including trips across Europe, the USA, West Africa, Iceland and Mexico; the ‘primitive’ art of the Aztecs and Africa particularly influenced him. An extraordinary polymath – a sculptor, painter, engraver and inventor, to name a few – he wrote prolifically on a variety of art topics and founded the magazine The Island, to which Moore and C R W Nevinson contributed." His work can also be seen in Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 at the Royal Academy of Arts.


Rūmī - Only Breath.

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