“Mehreen Murtaza (°1986, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, Murtaza presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.
Her artworks bear strong political references. The possibility or the dream of the annulment of a (historically or socially) fixed identity is a constant focal point. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, she often creates several practically identical works, upon which thoughts that have apparently just been developed are manifested: notes are made and then crossed out again, ‘mistakes’ are repeated.
Her works are saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes. They question the coerciveness that is derived from the more profound meaning and the superficial aesthetic appearance of an image. By experimenting with aleatoric processes, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.
Her works are an investigation of concepts such as authenticity and objectivity by using an encyclopaedic approach and quasi-scientific precision and by referencing documentaries, ‘fact-fiction’ and popular scientific equivalents. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she uses a visual vocabulary that addresses many different social and political issues. The work incorporates time as well as space – a fictional and experiential universe that only emerges bit by bit.
Her collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By merging several seemingly incompatible worlds into a new universe, she tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work.
She creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works. The thought processes, which are supposedly private, highly subjective and unfiltered in their references to dream worlds, are frequently revealed as assemblages.
Her works are on the one hand touchingly beautiful, on the other hand painfully attractive. Again and again, the artist leaves us orphaned with a mix of conflicting feelings and thoughts. By using an ever-growing archive of found documents to create autonomous artworks, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. With a conceptual approach, she makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.
Her works feature coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections which make it possible to revise art history and, even better, to complement it. Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, she reflects on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. This often results in an examination of both the human need for ‘conclusive’ stories and the question whether anecdotes ‘fictionalise’ history.
Her works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context.
Mehreen Murtaza currently lives and works in Lahore.”
b. 1986, Riyadh, KSA
currently working and residing in Lahore, Pakistan
Beaconhouse National University (Diploma in Teaching),Lahore, Pakistan
Beaconhouse National University (BFA),Lahore, Pakistan
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
Gasworks: The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust – Rangoonwala Foundation Award, London, UK
2002 – 2004
Lahore Grammar School (A-Levels), Regional Distinction in Advanced-Level Art,Lahore, Pakistan
Gold Medalist; Honors in Bachelor of Fine Art, Beaconhouse National University,Lahore, Pakistan
Crisis Apparitions,Art Dubai, represented by GREY NOISE, Dubai, UAE
Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?
In collaboration with GREY NOISE and Experimenter, Kolkata, India
Sarai Reader 09: The Exhibition, Episode Three, curated by Shveta Sarda
Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India
Permanent Record for Future Investigation, curated by Kamrooz Aram
Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE
Where the Wild Things Are, curated by Anca Mihulet
Temps d’Image Festival, The Paintbrush Factory, Cluj, Romania
The Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography
curated by Samantha Culp and Cher Potter,
Impakt Festival, No More Westerns, CBKU, Utrecht,The Netherlands
Under A Tinsel Sun, 3rdMoscow International Biennale for Young Art,
curated by Kathrin Becker, Moscow, Russia
vac.u.um, Grey Noise, Dubai, UAE
136MB / Exhibition Without Objects, curated by Sadia Shirazi,
Drawing Room Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan
Indian Art Fair, represented by Experimenter, Calcutta, New Delhi, India
Step Across This Line, Asia House, Grosvenor Gallery, London, UK
Kunsthalle Gwangju, 3rd Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course,
Republic of Korea
Do It! Kunsthalle Faust and GREY NOISE, Hannover, Germany
Art Dubai, MARKER section, Dubai, UAE
Indian Art Summit, New Delhi, India
The Rising Tide – Artistic Practice within Urban Transitions,
Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi, Pakistan
Art Dubai 2010, Dubai, UAE
Resemble Reassemble, curated by Rashid Rana,
Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India
Automaton Love, curated by Mehreen Murtaza, The Loft, Bombay, India
Patrons of “Oh My God! I Can Buy Art!,” GREY NOISE,
First curatorial show, Lahore, Pakistan
Four Person Show, Canvas Art Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan
Playground, Post Graduate Diploma Show,
Al-Hamra Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan
Through Other Eyes, Contemporary Art from South Asia: A Polylogue
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, UK
Parallel Lines: Contemporary Art from Lahore, Pakistan
Cartwright Hall: Bradford City Art Gallery and Museum, UK
Let’s Talk: Five Pakistani Artists in Dialogue,Jam Jar, Dubai, UAE
Inaugural show: Contemporary Indian and Pakistani Art,
FSCA Gallery, Colaba District, Mumbai, India
Degree Show: Beaconhouse National University,
Al-Hamra Cultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan
26.04.08: Grey Noise Launch, curated by Umer Butt,
Al-Hamra Cultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan
360° 60 X 60secs Traveling Video Exhibition by motiroti,
Pakistan, India, UK
Thirteen Satellites, Public Art-1, GermanCultural Center, Lahore, Pakistan
Coloring Outside The Lines, Khoj Residency, New Delhi, India
RESIDENCIES / WORKSHOPS / SYMPOSIUMS
Sandarbh, The Jaipur Chapter in collaboration with
Neerja Modi Centre for Visual and Performing Arts, Jaipur, India
SITAC X (10th International Symposium on Contemporary Art Theory),
The Future: The Long Count Begins Again
Teatro Julio Castillo, Centro Cultural del Bosques s/n, Mexico City
Gasworks: The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust-Rangoonwala Foundation Award,
VASL: International Artists’ Lahore Residency, Lahore, Pakistan
UNESCO Photojournalism Workshop, Abbotabad, Jacobabad, Pakistan
VASL: 13 Satellites I, Lahore, Pakistan
Khoj: Coloring Outside The Lines, New Delhi, India