Jhaveri Contemporary: Ali Kazim

12 - 27 May

Jhaveri Contemporary is pleased to present The Weight of Blue, a solo exhibition by Ali Kazim at Frieze No.9 Cork Street featuring new work by the artist across four ongoing series.

Ali Kazim’s subjects have a monumental dignity, suspended as they are in space and time. The colour blue – French ultramarine, cobalt, indigo – unites the works across this exhibition. Blue is the colour of the sky and water, of vastness and longing. It is associated with melancholy too, and is a metaphor for the spiritual. Floating against unmodulated backgrounds, and saturated with thin layers of watercolour wash, Kazim's portraits are a tour de force of emotion.

The art of the past – primarily Buddhist sculpture from Gandhara and Mughal and Rajput painting – also informs works in this exhibition. In a series of stunning self-portraits, Kazim fashions himself as a demon from Mara’s Army, referencing a 2nd century AD Gandharan relief from the Peshawar Distrtict, now in the Lahore Museum. Mara was an evil spirit who was afraid that his power would be compromised if Buddha showed all how to attain Enlightenment. The relief depicts Mara’s army trying to distract Buddha before he achieves Enlightenment, a pivotal episode in the life of the Buddha. The sculptor(s) of the relief depict the forces of delusion as a horde of human-animal hybrids.

In his paintings, Ali Kazim uses self-portraiture to engage with this key episode in Buddhist mythology, 'ani- mating the gestures and expressions of the demonic soldiers of Mara's army. Modelled on his own face, Kazim's figures seem to play at being demons, as though trying out and comparing notes on being fiendish.'

Ali Kazim (b.1979, Pattoki. Lives and works in Lahore) creates layered, textured watercolours and ink drawings, primarily of desolate landscapes and figures in isolation. His meticulous brushwork draws upon miniature painting techniques, capturing the finest details, for instance individual strands of hair. Kazim treats landscapes with the same forensic finesse and considers the ancient civilisations that once flourished in Pakistan. Deploying an archaeological approach, he documents ruins and uses clay to create objects seemingly excavated from long-buried cities.

Kazim received his BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2002 and a MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2011. He is As- sistant Professor at the National College of Arts, Lahore.

His work has been exhibited widely in solo and group shows internationally, including: Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai (2023); Deichtorhallen, Ham- burg (2022); The Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2022); Hinterland, Vienna (2022); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2022); The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford (2022); Lahore Biennale 02, Lahore (2020); COMO Museum of Art, Lahore (2019); Karachi Biennale, Karachi (2019); 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018); Lahore Biennale 01, Lahore (2018); Karachi Biennale, Karachi (2017); Office of Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo (2016); Hinterland Galerie, Vienna (2016); Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka (2023, 2016); Seoul Arts Centre, Hangaram Arts Museum, Seoul (2016/2015); Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2015).

Ali Kazim’s work forms part of many public collections, including Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford; British Museum, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Ali Kazim, Untitled (Bird Hunter V), 2022 (Courtesy of the Artist and Jhaveri Contemporary
Ali Kazim, Untitled (Bird Hunter V), 2022 (Courtesy of the Artist and Jhaveri Contemporary)