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Maraya Art Centre: Towards Time by Zara Mahmood

Maraya Art Centre welcomes everyone to admire the art of Pakistani artist Zara Mahmood. In her first solo exhibition in the UAE, Towards Time, she explores stillness and gives particular attention to shifting light and temporality in our everyday lives. The exhibition will remain open until the 29th of September, 2022.

Towards Time lets one notice a significant change in Mahmood’s practice. Her conventional art approach (traditional printmaking, drawing and painting) shifted to the more technological one (photo transfers, video and digital prints on uncommon surfaces).

Zara Mahmood, Dimension (2020). Photo: Maraya Art Centre

Many of the exhibited artworks were made over the past three years. Mahmood created them after her trip to Satwa’s fabric bazaar. Having drawn her inspiration from the trip, she began experimenting with photo transfers on fabric and tried printing on other surfaces surrounding her. The results of these experiments are seen in Dimension (2020), a series of photo transfers on tiles, and in A Place (2021). The latter shows light falling on a household surface in the form of digital prints on mylar.

Zara Mahmood, Dimension III (2020)

The other key theme investigated in the displayed art pieces is time. It’s explored not only in the images, but also in Mahmood’s video installations. In Momentary (2018), the ephemerality and subtle slippages of light over time through hotel blinds in Arizona are observed. In When I Had the Sea to Myself II (2019), one sees how light and shadow play, dappling the tide on the beach. 

Zara Mahmood, Cellular (2022). Photo: Maraya Art Centre

Considering the fact that Mahmood is also a musician (she plays piano and harmonium for Sail into Night, a Dubai band), her work Cellular (2022) is of a special interest. In this cinematic montage of digital prints, reflections of light are arranged and repeated rhythmically to mimic quietude, dissonance and recurring motifs in a musical piece. The concept of temporality — of tempo — is reflected here.

Maraya Art Centre’s director, Dr Nina Heydemann, calls Mahmood’s work in the show “digital Impressionism”: by using technological tools and the available surfaces, the artist achieves the same soft blurriness common to the art movement.

Zara Mahmood, Align (2020)

Being alone in her studio during the coronavirus lockdown, a lot of the art pieces Mahmood created then derived from stillness and focusing on the minutiae. It is distinctly represented in Align (2020), a photomontage series of video stills viewed through a tunnelled perspective. A viewer looking at the images through the narrowed lens can feel the constraint and isolation of having to stay inside, yearning for fresh scenery.

The Towards Time exhibition serves an invitation to visitors not to resist their impulses for more slowness and stillness — the same impulses that draws us to the meditative beauty of beach photos and golden hour selfies — and to pay closer attention to the commonplace, something as consistent and unremarkable as the sun shining through our windows.

To learn more, please visit the official web page of the exhibition.

You may also like the Another Perspective exhibition by artist Mohamed Al Astad.

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