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The global meat shop

THE LAST few years have witnessed a fruitful collaboration between local artists and those from abroad as they have worked together in a bid to bridge the cultural divide. In December last Lila Art Gallery had played host to Russian graphic painter Olga Okineva and Dutch painter Fritz Kraay. Recently members from the Kulturforum Rheine, a cultural organisation based in Germany, were here at the invitation of the Kerala Kalapeetom. The idea behind these partnerships is that art occupies a special place that cuts across the many existing ideological, geographical and political boundaries. Moreover, as artists from different cultural backgrounds work in tandem they assimilate different elements in their lexicon, adding a new and varied dimension to their works.

Nazar U. Sahib, a Malayali artist who moved to Dubai over ten years ago was in the city recently with his latest works. Nazar is a product of the Kalapeetom and most of his sculptures of that period are made in wood. Over the years, along with the style that has morphed so has his medium. Fascinated by the feel of clay, Nazar has switched to terracotta. The medium he says lends itself to his current absorption with the theme of slaughter shops. "I can get the sensation of flesh when I knead the clay," says the artist who is both a painter and sculptor. Nazar is a member of this guild of lamenters who believe that senseless killings and massacres rarely cause a stir; the daily news dose of terrorism has apparently benumbed readers. In a mixed media installation titled Global Meat Shop; pink figurines that allude to skinned human bodies are suspended by a spine-chilling hook in an abattoir, waiting for the consumer to pick them up. With a theme as revolting the artist succeeds in shaking the viewer out of his stupor. For his current exhibition, Nazar has replaced terracotta with coloured plastic tapes. The hooked figures dangle against a painted backdrop. An undulating landscape with dunes and date palms is worked in pastel shades; the dunes and palms echo the topography of his adopted country.

Nazar investigates architectural constructions and readily employs them in his compositions. In another series titled City Scapes, Nazar uses the tall structures that are used in the Middle East as a wind moving system. There's only a hint of colour; he skilfully executes a labyrinthine assembly of towers to bring out layers over layers of images.

Nazar's works are a part of a group show titled Viswakarma 2004, which gets underway on April 4th. It will be put up at Durbar Hall gallery.


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