Mohammed Kazem is perhaps best known for his large scale and interactive installations. Certainly, when he has exhibited on international stages, Kazem has reached for powerful and three-dimensional ways to exhibit his ongoing interest in social impact on the spaces around him. It is for this reason that his third solo exhibition at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde is so interesting. It focuses on his paintings, a relatively unknown aspect of his practice, which often gave way to a greater interest in texture and surface.
This exhibition features work from the 1990s, when Kazem was still working and developing under the guidance of Hassan Sharif who encouraged him to experiment with pigment and tone. He painted his studio and other every-day objects with an emphasis on light and shadow, which can clearly be seen as forerunners for later series where he captures light with his camera lens and focused on shadow and angles.
This exhibition also features a new series, Neighbours (2018) comprising flat paintings that conjure up dimensionality through technique. Kazem has depicted the lines of brightly coloured buildings in his immediate neighbourhood juxtaposed with the blue sky. The geometry of space and also the focus on mundane objects that show traces of human imprints upon our environment combine to make these paintings arresting in their simplicity.
While painting began as a major aspect of Kazem’s early work, it is true that today he is still fascinated by collecting and documenting information about unimportant objects and traces of human existence. To summarise the importance of Kazem’s paintings, the gallery points us to the words of Hassan Sharif written in his monograph published in 2013: “The meaning or purpose of [Kazem’s] paintings lies in the life of the colours and the ways they can be put to use, not in the painted objects themselves.”
A Prime Activity: Sept 17 – Nov 1, 2018. Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde.
1- Mohammed Kazem, Studio, 1990. Water colour on paper, 30 x 33cm. Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
2- Mohammed Kazem, Neighbours, 2018. Oil primer and exterior wall paint on MDF panel, 75 x 120 x 8 cm. Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
3- Mohammed Kazem, Neighbour No. A8, 2018.Acrylic on canvas board, 30.5 x 40.5 cm. Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
4- Mohammed Kazem, Neighbours, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 105 cm. Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
5- Mohammed Kazem, Even the Shade Does not Belong to Them ,2018. Acrylic and ink on canvas, 106.5 x 142 cm.Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
6- Mohammed Kazem, Even the Shade Does not Belong to Them ,2018. Acrylic and ink on canvas, 106.5 x 142 cm.Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
7- Mohammed Kazem, Neighbours, 2018. Water colour on paper, 25 x 25 cm. Courtesy of Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde