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Viewer Discretion is Advised

Aasim Akhtar
Gandhara Art, April 2009,
Hardback, 50 pages
ISBN : -

“Always implicated and yet elusive”. It is perhaps this remark by Maurice Blanchot that best sums up the situation of the artist, Tazeen Qayyum, necessarily and even viscerally implicated in the socio-political reality of her region, but exceptionally elusive. Attentive to emerging opportunities, but wary of existent political programmes, having run the gauntlet of lost illusions and great expectation, she shins anything liable to weaken her grasp on the grammar of urban life or lead to any symbolic exile from the country – including explicit political commitment. It is in this essayistic dimension to Qayyum’s miniature painting and its ability to question, dismantle and reframe its subject matter to make it such a compelling exploration of representation. If the conventional strategy emphasized logical intelligibility, making the grounds of fieldwork comprehensible for the audience at large, Qayyum’s images transform place into conceptual site, resisting the easily intelligible and pointing t0o the limitations implicit in the aspiration for a so-called balanced representation. Tazeen Qayyum’s strength lies in the ability to condense knotty relations in a non-stereotypical way and n terms that don’t erase or sidestep complexity. What she exhibits is not a romantic region that serves as a paradigm or alluring allegory for the meeting and mixing of different cultures.