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A. Rahim Sharif Vases

10 October 2009
29 October 2009
9:00am to 1:00pm
4:00pm to 7:00pm

The recent series of paintings, titled Vases, is Abdulrahim Sharif’s resolute and reflective approach to Still Life, the genre that seems to have fallen through the cracks of art history. Whether he is deliberately nostalgic or not, Sharif plays on sentiment in his choice of subject.

Endowed with dignity and gravity which belie their humble status, Vases, have an immediate visual impact because of their unusual composition, sumptuous colour, persistent manifestations and mutations set within the frame where they take on a commanding authority. This is attained not through the subject’s intrinsic significance but by the magnitude they assume in Sharif’s pictorial world.

Though he has a strong Colourist status, before anything else, Sharif is primarily involved with the aesthetics of personal expression.

Sharif’s complex hybrid language –
the unholy matrimony of the real and imagined.

He has not presumed to judge the efficiency of painting to make changes in the world or even the consciousness of the individual viewer. Instead he has stuck to the premise of creating a painting that can intensify the sensations of seeing, which are sensations of life and that these give rise to an appetite for life. Without compromising the pleasures of painting, he filled his work with what he can get out of his mind, with what he knows none of us can get out of our minds. These paintings are offered as devices for heightening the intelligence and pleasures of the soul.

In these works, the abstract design of the compositions appears to be based not on Renaissance perspective conventions but on the system of recession without vanishing points common to Islamic painting. However, all the elements of the composition were hewn out of paint with strength and assurance that immediately reveals the network of subtle interrelationships in the picture.

Crayola-bright palette combined with canonical Cubist ocher, green and brown, rendered with clarity and authority, hug the surface and wonderfully capture the sense of the hand at work. The vases have provided him with a form of gestural spontaneity and a genuine painterliness emerges in his confidence of touch. His capability of making great constellations of colour and detail look both exploded and unified.

His manipulations of the subject and its control – not willfulness but inner necessity or naïveté regained – makes one read every stroke. A long labour of painting and repainting, the obsessive erasures and pentimenti in the paintings shows that the character of his art is hinged on his experience of sorrow, joy and reinvention of self.

Looking at the Vases, Abdulrahim Sharif succeeds in evoking a variety and vitality of sensory perception through the impersonal art of Still Life – making it one of his best creative strides. They are full of energy and rewarding visual richness that vivify the experience of seeing in a way that too little new art does these days.

Maria Victoria Vivero
Artist & Art critic
September 2009