Syed Muhammad Zakir working on his exhibition, Maya
Bangladeshi artist Syed Muhammad Zakir’s works typically focus on environmental issues and their impact on the public. His latest exhibition, Maya, which focuses on the fictitious city of Baghreb, is no different. Tien Albert reports
Originally trained a sculptor, Zakir’s art now spans different dimensions and mediums. He has created several pieces using unpredictable protruding pipes, and has also delved into performance art, cracked and bleak paintings, street art, and land art reminiscent of the style of Richard Long.
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Zakir’s land art, in particular, tends to focus on men and women’s relationship with nature. Often taking place in public parks, the artist uses easily available materials, such as leaves from the ground or sand from beaches, to draw symmetrical patterns. Examples of this include “White”, a white rectangle painted on a wall separated by a gap, so a banana leaf could successfully grow between the two, and “Art can be anywhere”, a series of symmetrical patterns formed in a park between trees using fallen leaves.
His latest exhibition at the Bengal Shilpalay gallery blurs the line between traditional show and land art. There is a focus on the readymade, which is juxtaposed with Zakir’s typical scratched, scrawly canvases.
Zakir’s proclivity for easily available materials is obvious: the exhibition uses mundane objects, such as plastic bottles, an overflowing plastic bag, and styrofoam to make a commentary on mankind’s neglect of nature.
The objects are placed on the floor for the viewer to walk past, placing them in ‘Baghreb’, an imagined city, making the exhibition as a whole feel much more interactive. Even within the exhibition space there are frequent clashes between mediums.
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Paintings are placed next to readymade items, which are placed next to plants and poems from the artist’s wife, Sanjeeda Shahid, symbolising the over-empowerment of everyday objects
The City of Baghreb