NIGHT 52 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

Gelly Grintaki, independent curator and writer for the Art Newspaper Greece, wrote this about my Carpet Pages show last year. Currently planning this year’s show and reminiscing about the last one:

Weaving Past into Present

Taking a walk around the Carpet Pages I exhibition is like browsing through the Arabian Nights – a book that the curator, Vaishali Prazmari, has revealed as her favourite. And not only because of the masterfully made Eastern traditional ornaments that predominate. Every work of art – every carpet page – seems like an introduction to a narrative. This could be read as Scheherazade’s tale, a refugee’s story, an indiscernible organic process, a personal narration or a video game. Arabesque patterns become barcodes, symbols, labyrinths, fractals or biological forms creating a continuous shape-shifting Borgesian universe. There are flowers and leaves, kites and birds, geometrical forms and wallpaper designs and undoubtedly, possessed by the exotic surroundings, someone might find allusions to flying carpets. Besides, group art exhibitions are like carpets: different threads interlace to offer an ornate piece of truth.

Although through all those different and miraculous patterns an effort to organize chaos is detectable, it is when chaos slightly escapes that the visitor can sense the curator’s vision: the transcendence of absolute symmetry; the painting that unexpectedly gets out of its frame; a slight shift of the visual centre; the Lucretian clinamen. There is a very unique and personal artistic view of the world behind every work and yet it’s those unpredicted dialogues/clashes taking place among them that give the visitor the necessary surprise, the startling that a good exhibition deigns to offer. There it is, the traditional vs the contemporary, the real vs the imaginary, spirituality vs technology. The universe is not homogenous, that is what the artists tell us. It is diversity and creative chaos that generate beauty. Carpet Pages I seems like a small artistic archipelago of conceptual islands beyond time (the island being another recurring motif of the curator). The arabesque shapes that run over it, after all, appear to have no beginning and no end, belonging to a circular Nietzschean spacetime or no time at all. However, a carpet page, being the term for the introductory ornamental pages of early religious books, indicates a start. This way the exhibition’s title becomes a wink, a playful implication about entering a spiritual ongoing experience, the Open Sesame spell for a transcendence in time.

In his book Ways of Curating Hans Ulrich Obrist posits that an ideal exhibition should be an imaginary space of past and present coming together. With this first chapter of the Carpet Pages series artist and curator Vaishali Prazmari, by bringing together tradition and contemporary worldviews, opens up a promising path for the creation of this exact kind of expanded space.

Gelly Gryntaki
London 2018

gelly text

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