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Farhat / Shammarey
at Anya Tish Gallery. Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Rahul Mitra

Continuing through October 8, 2011

Simeen Farhat
and Mohammed Al Shammarey are displaced artists, either self imposed or otherwise. Both artists are engaged in exploring personal means to deal with issues such as liberation, cultures, displacement, freedom through literature and cultural rituals.

Farhat’s work transforms stanzas of Urdu and Persian poems into sculptures, creating a contemporary context for these gentle poems by casting the words in wood and resin, and erasing the space between the lines. Pashto calligraphic columns, rendered as a physical presence push from the ground and the walls, breathing soul into the poems that create silent moments that the artist refers to as “Speech Bubbles.”

Al Shammarey is an Iraqi artist in exile. For him the upshot of Iraq having had democracy imposed militarily was to systematically dissect internal cultural structures. Given this background, Al Shammarey is not just in exile; he is in personal turmoil. He counters this personal and cultural disruption by his excavations of cultural rituals presented in black and white photographs and dances of the Dervishes. This work reinforces his perspective that political regimes may change but cultures remain: deep, silent, spinning to the drums heard and recalled by artists in exile like him. Informed as it is by current events, both artists’ work goes beyond politics and their respective cultures of origin to make strong aesthetic statements.

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