Anwar Jalal Shemza: Calligraphic Abstraction

9 Oct 2009 – 6 Nov 2009

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Green Cardamom

London, United Kingdom


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  • Tube to Marble Arch
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Green Cardamom presents a series of exhibitions over the next two years, exploring the practice of the late Anwar Jalal Shemza (1929—1985). Each exhibition examines a particular area of this artist's work and is curated by a group of art historians, curators and artists who have been engaged with Shemza's work in different capacities. The first exhibition, curated by Iftikhar Dadi, focuses on the development of calligraphic abstraction in Shemza's works. Subsequent curators for the exhibitions include Rachel Garfield, Amna Malik and Savita Apte. An important modernist in his own right, Shemza is representative of a generation of artists who emerged in the wake of the decolonization of Asia and Africa. His work grapples also with issues of belonging in the diaspora, as he lived in the UK from the mid 1950s till his death in 1985. Based on a study of Shemza's writings and a significant part of his artistic oeuvre, the exhibition traces the development of the artist's work during this period. Shemza has re-territorialised the Arabic script, foregrounding its trans-local nature, while making its aesthetic engaging to the outside and so destabilising simplistic associations between art and nation. Calligraphic experimentations like his have, through abstraction, opened a dialogue with metropolitan artistic languages, to become more global in scope.

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