By Umer Nangiana
Providing them the opportunity to present their creative research and artistic endeavours to the public, the Virginia Commonwealth University-Qatar (VCU-Q) has officially opened its Faculty exhibition for the year 2016.
The exhibition features the works of VCU-Q faculty members Ali Khan, Diane Derr, Donald Earley, Fleming Jeffries, Law Alsobrook, Michael Hersrud, Michael Perrone, Nathan Ross Davis and Thomas Modeen. Artists and art critics, including Mayssa Fattouh, Faraj Daham and Aisha al-Suwaidi, selected the artworks for the exhibition through a juried selection process.
Ali Khan presents the photographs from his The Lost Action Hero Series which is part of a larger series of photographs that aims to capture the resilience and spirit of street children living in the shadows of the cinemas showing the latest exploits of action stars and super heroes from Hollywood to Bollywood.
The series questions what defines an action hero and what actually makes them macho?
“I am hoping that this exhibition will show the experience of the faculty members in their field, not just in the execution of the work but also their individual perception of what art is,” says Faraj Daham, a well-known Qatari artist and the member of the jury in his comments.
A striking installation that catches the eye first up at the exhibition is ‘Staircake’ by Fleming Jeffries. Staircake belongs to a collection of work concerning material subconsciousness. This project is a vertical artist book, made from a pulp-cake of local date palm fronds and imported abaca.
The idea of a free-standing staircase came from wandering around Doha, where such things exist in scaffolding, says the artist. It can be interpreted as fantastical, utilitarian or preparatory, temporary or modular.
The structure as a whole represents a change in altitude without a change in lateral position. Each flight signifies a specific amount of effort over a period of time. The fragility and softness of Staircake makes obvious the perishable nature of the structure as a monument to the anonymous life, the artist adds.
“The outcome is an exhibition of different thoughts that co-exist under one roof, representing the spirit of openness and the richness of a multidisciplinary university gallery,” says Mayssa Fattouh, a member of the jury, while commenting on the exhibition.
Michael Perrone, another participating artist, presents his piece of painting titled ‘Wandering #1’ made with oil paint, cement and gypsum on burlap, a kind of fabric. “Since moving to Qatar in August of 2013, I have been creating paintings that explore abstract patterns and colour fields. Additionally I have been interested in the articulation of handmade brush work and a simplicity of form,” says Perrone.
“With my most recent painting, presented here, I have been thinking more about the conceptual underpinnings of the abstractions, and making visual and intellectual connections between my painting process and the continually changing road patterns of Doha,” adds the artist.
The exhibition also features a digital collage, an inkjet print on silk by Nathan Ross Davis titled ‘Geo Desert Pool.’ “This series of collages is a study of wonder and beauty found in my everyday expat life in Doha; a glorification of the local and banal from my privileged, situated, ‘suburban’ viewpoint,” says Nathan, describing the work.
Thomas Modeen presents ‘Stackable Totem Bowls’, 3D printed porcelain. It is a set of 3D printed porcelain bowls, vases or pitchers with various colour glazes that can be stacked onto a totem-like stack. While Donald Earley’s oil on canvas, Selfie, takes a humorous look at the Selfie craze.
Diane Derr and Law Alsobrook’s installation, From There to Then, examines the construction of narrative through environmental and biometric data. The project explores Aristotle’s delineation of narrative as the logical connections and interactions that exist between events. “Our congnitive perception of time and experience as it relates to narrative has been the subject of philosophical debate since Aristotle’s characterisation of mythos and mimesis in ‘Poetics’,” say the artists.
As traditional communication models morph with continued developments in technology, they add, our understanding with representation as a means to consider the real is shifting in tandem. The data was collected from sites of pilgrimage in India.
Michael Hersrud presents to the exhibition ‘Uncharted territories’, the publications. The artist book edition is printed with Ultra Chrome Archival inkjet on mulberryhemp Japanese Washi paper, hand embossed details and machine sewn stitch binding. “The artworks show a variety of backgrounds and mediums that allowed for a selection of an interesting body of work,” says Aisha al-Suwaidi, the member of the jury.
The exhibition is open for public at VCU-Qatar Gallery till February 23 this year.
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