Grace in Hand | Komail Aijazuddin
A Solo Exhibition by Komail Aijazuddin
These drawings are the result of the beginning of my engagement with the concept of illuminated manuscripts, an idea that grew naturally out of my interest in the various manifestations of religious and devotional art.
The pieces started out as investigations into borders, which were always the most interesting parts of the illuminated manuscripts for me. When considering these works my attention was almost invariably drawn to areas where the margin was violated, where a figures hand or foot or a passing cloud interrupted the artist’s own imposed border. The break seemed incongruous and therefore insightful, a conspicuous acknowledge of the pictures own internal logic otherwise intended to remain hidden. But what struck me the most was how by disturbing the border, the pictorial space became both more real and more theatrically staged (like medieval 3D TV).
This idea – one of the creation and disruption of boundaries- deeply affected my process. Rather than planning the whole image, which seemed counterintuitive to something as immediate as drawing, I dealt with the vast and imposing blank page by imposing a simple border, a rectangle. The rest of the drawing unfolded not based on narrative, but on formal decisions about how the elements inside confines of the rectangle interacted with the boundary line I myself had imposed. In some drawings you’ll find that crossing the boundary changes the actual medium, from chalk to silver or yellow pencil to gold. In others the thorns burst into hands, an unrealized acknowledgement that the line in these drawings is often a stand in for the divide between the human and divine.
The hands are, obviously, a major part of the show, both in concept and execution. I wanted to see how far I could use the universal symbol of the hand of Fatima, which I’ve long experimented with in my work as a not only a stand- in for devotion and divinity but also as a formal element in mark making. The hands exist in the drawings in essence like a “God particle” i.e. a symbol of the divine. It is repeated, dispersed, clustered, made into forms of trees, thorns and halos; it is gridded, hidden, revealed; floating, falling, ethereal, both hollow and substantive; In some places it ceases of be a hand at all and becomes a series of lines, obscured by (again) the boundaries of the figural form.
Many of the more intricate patterned borders in the drawings have been taken from various French and Spanish 11th – 13th century Romanesque manuscripts, and also from Persian book illustrations from the same period. In several, I have given up the idea of the rectangle as a border at all, and implied both halo and border without using a rectilinear form at all, but rather through negative space.
My interest in deconstructing the power of the border led to the idea of deconstructing the paper (and image) itself. This led to the Wax Formations. Each Formation is made up of several different drawings on translucent paper, which are then pressed together to create one image. I would often start with letting chance dictate how ink or paint would form an abstracted shape, unencumbered by intention. Using whatever resulted as a base I would then create another layer, and another and another, often not establishing a relationship between them until nearer the end of the process. I wouldn’t know what the final image would look like, and this released me from any loyalty to a narrative without forgoing content. These drawings vary in concept from ruminations on text (to me yet another manifestation of art on paper) to contemporary coding, Eastern miniatures and printmaking.
My work on this series is ongoing, and formally for me it an exciting departure into what has been an rewarding examination into the notions of divinity, loss, identity, independence, historical weight and, in a larger sense, statehood. Thank you for looking.