Receiving and Collecting: Mohammed Kazem

9 January - 23 February 2017

Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde is pleased to present new work by Mohammed Kazem in a solo exhibition entitled Receiving and Collecting.


Throughout his practice, Mohammed Kazem has tried to capture the un-capturable. From his own body and the objects of his quotidian to nature itself, Kazem senses what is un-measurable, sometimes even un-seeable, and transfigures it into a visual work. He observes and measures, yet he does not record. He collects and analyses, yet he does not portray. Rather, Kazem responds to the abstractness of nature. He hears, then renders sounds visually. He sees, then uses action, performance to make a vision manifest. His scratchings, paintings, drawings and sculpture are at the fulcrum of many senses - sound, sight, touch, movement. And each work offers new proof that Kazem has the ability to see what lies beyond sight.


This quest for the un-capturable knows no end: Kazem continually strives to "receive" new moments from the hand of nature - a swathe of sunlight across his balcony, a shadow tapering along the floor. While his immediate environment is a hotbed of reflection and sensing, he also ventures out into the wider world to "collect" experiences, whether a wayward slogan on a billboard, or the graphic interplay of light, objects and shadow. Harking back to his well-known Autobiography series, Kazem appears in works in Receiving and Collecting. Some literally depict him at work - his hands "collecting" light - while others bear the mark of the performance that was both the works' genesis and process.


In Receiving Light (2016), Kazem lies in wait for the sun to sweep across his balcony or bleed into a room. He captures this luminous visitor into his personal space via a photograph, then applies his hallmark scratching technique to render the light intensity tangible, as if he has somehow made nature analogue. Conversely, in Collecting Light (2016), the artist photographically hunts down the elusive play of sunlight on objects in the world - plants, poles, rocks, doors - and scratches the surface following the light's direction. The raised and scattered dots of the textured image oddly echo the movement of this fleeting sun on its course. Materiality has been given to light, which had none; two dimensions have bristled into three.


Unsurprisingly perhaps, because of his initial training as a musician, sound - or, more precisely, "visual sound" - is a recurring feature of Kazem's work. In Sculpting Sound (2012), the artist attempts to render a cacophonous bar as a visual experience. Multi-lingual phrases saturate the space, vibrating across walls and throbbing through the doorway in a sequin-dotted visual blare. With a nod to his friend and mentor Hassan Sharif "actions", Experiment (2016) is a series of multi-layered ink and acrylic works on paper in which the performance of the artist - rolling, dunking, creasing, layering, dripping - is latent in the work itself. Rounding out the show is Windows 2011-2012 (2011-12) a series of 108 drawings capturing the spontaneous and the unrepeatable of his environment. Slightly ironic and politically tinged, these too are in the critical lineage of the late Hassan Sharif.


What does sound look like? What does light feel like? How is a painting bodily? Can the immaterial be made material? These are the questions that punctuate Kazem's practice. Perhaps they are questions without answers. But perhaps, by fathoming them, the artist opens new windows onto an unimagined imagination.