He had headed north instead, into a land of sandstone formations, carved by the wind and sand – a camel, a tortoise, Cambodian temples…ancient ruined cities under a purple sky…. Kim found an arrowhead six inches long, chipped from obsidian and a smaller arrowhead of rose-coloured flint.
Slabs of stone had been criss-crossed to form an altar. Homo sapiens was here.
- William S. Burroughs’: ‘The Place of Dead Roads’, Fourth Estate, London, 1983
Galerie Gabriel Rolt is proud to announce Cosmic Beach, the second solo-exhibition in the gallery by London-based artist Shezad Dawood. Syncretism is the combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought, especially in the theology and mythology of religion. This idea of the mythology of myth, like a hall of mirrors that reflects back truth through its multiple angles, is the framework for Cosmic Beach.
Typical of the artist’s juxtapositions, the opening point of the show is the early and rarely-seen video work ‘Conversations with the Desert, 2005’, which sees the artist performing a set of rituals, face-to-face with the vast emptiness of the desert in Sindh, Pakistan. These rituals were timed to coincide with the vernal equinox in 2005, which saw a particularly unusual convergence of star systems linking Egypt and Mexico.
The Secret Power of the Pyramids reveals the specific inter-relationship of the various pyramid structures built at key sacred locations on Earth by the Atlanteans, several millennia before the invention of the Common Era of Abraham and his daughters. These structures acted as orgone generators and accumulators of raw power, a fact that has been long forgotten as they have been left to ruin. Only in the late 18th Century did an occult society of academics and collectors start to put the beginnings of this theory together, like early man making jigsaws out of chicken bones. It is towards this secret and hermetic understanding that the works in Cosmic Beach move.
The use of the filmic technique of montage in the construction of Dawood’s paintings points to the various layers of meaning, history and possibility that embody his practice and research into the contrapuntal possibilities of fiction. In ‘Four Sides, 2012’, for example, a Mayan pyramid appears to erupt from stylised South Asian motorcycle advertising, allowing unrelated ideas to become threaded together through their juxtaposition, while in ‘Come, sweet death, with madness marked and end the sceneless revelry, 2012’, the title of the work is taken from an Allen Ginsberg poem. Here Dawood engages with notions of death and resurrection, which can be linked to the re-use and re-appropriation of vintage Pakistani textiles as the surface for these textile paintings.
This bold frisson of myth, narrative and futurity maps out an alternative universe of the mind, where various times, geographies and utopian paradigms can co-exist, with all of their nuanced and complex webs of meaning, rather like the overmind that is pointed to in the Hindu concept of Shunya – where it is possible to perceive all times and places as one, by penetrating to the secret of things, as being their total interdependence and ultimate non-existence. ‘Outside, 2012’, for example, can be seen in direct relation to the concept of Shunya, suggesting a cosmic convergence of times and places, existing right on the border between figuration and abstraction.
Shezad Dawood was born in London in 1974 and trained at Central St Martin’s and the Royal College of Art before undertaking a PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University..
Dawood is one of the winners of the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize. His work has been exhibited internationally, including as part of ‘Altermodern’, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, at Tate Britain, and the 53rd Venice Biennale (both 2009), and the Busan Biennale in Korea (2010). His further extensive exhibitions include interventions in cities such as Tangiers, Mumbai, Karachi, Hamburg, and Singapore.
Current and upcoming projects include a solo touring exhibition opening at Modern Art Oxford in April 2012 and a solo exhibition at Parasol Unit, London (2013). His books include ‘Feature: Reconstruction’ (Bookworks, 2008), ‘Viaggio al termine della notte’ (monograph), (Galleria Riccardo Crespi, 2008), Intensive Surfaces: Shezad Dawood (Århus Kunstbygning, 2010) and ‘Artists’ Studio’ (Culture Shock Media, 2007). Dawood currently lives and works in London, where he is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Experimental Media at the University of Westminster.