January 22nd - March 4th 2009
Ali AZMAT, born 1973 in Multan, Pakistan, studied at the University of Punjab, Lahore. He lives and works in Lahore. This will be his first solo show in London. Azmat’s figurative exploration is an attempt to capture the human figure in isolation. His subject, personal, detached, exposed and surrendering to the painter is a play between subjectivity and representation.
In this body of work, Azmat goes one step further into his own investigation. Hijras (eunuchs) exist in their thousands in every major city in Pakistan. This transsexual identity has been present throughout history in South Asia. Tolerated, but reviled, often living in poverty, the hijras are established on the margin of society. They stand as a statement for the right of an alternative way of life, an assertion of sexual difference and ultimately an expression of the inner diversity that runs through the human community at large.
Performance is one of the hijras principal means of existence. A usual way of sustaining themselves is to walk unannounced and uninvited into weddings and other ceremonies chanting, singing, hurling insults until they are finally paid to leave, or beg for money in the street, flashing their castrated genital areas to anyone who refuses to acquiesce.
Turning to the hijras as a subject, however, has allowed Azmat to push further his research into the representation of the person behind the performer. For Azmat, painting is about reaching to the single entity of the human form, body and soul. The male-female characteristics of his models, and the emotions that lie beneath their public veneer is what Azmat is looking for. Perhaps the title the artist gave this series explains all: ‘Moorat’ is the salutation hijras use to address each other, meaning ‘face’.
This exhibition is in association with Clemy Sheffield.