Monday, April 19, 2010

A glance at Riyas Komu’s new set of works - I

The new exhibition of works by Riyas Komu at Azad Art Gallery, Tehran suggests an intense examination of our heritage in the backdrop of sudden politics moves and developments that continue to entrap our voices and our lives. Here is a quick glance at his new set of works

‘Safe to Light’: His recent work on tables, including ‘Safe to Light’, is a second work conceptualized as a table (The first one in 2009). It comprises scientific instruments and vessels, an alembic, used for the process of distillation, placed on the leveled surface of a table. It works both as a straight plinth as well as a marked place whereupon experiments occur. A small flame, emanating out of a bunsen burner carved in wood, heats up the large glass vial (also carved in wood).

The three main elements of the work, excluding the table, are the heated vial and burner as well as another glass vial that accepts the vapours emitted from the initial vial, whilst, in sharp contrast, on the table sits a water pump, ideally waiting to pump move of the earth’s precious element out for further experiments. The installation raises many questions about the notion of exchange as suggested in the title.

Fragrance of funeral: This new work is curiously manufactured. The table, like a shattered site after a natural disaster, remains whole but broken in parts, all aspects of its former self are present but evidently busted. The work, a cross etween a table and a funeral pyre or even a forensic table, has multiple meanings. One of the most interesting new elements to be introduced is a seated figure from a Moghul period, holding a flower to his nose and wearing an ornate turban.

Bearded and reminiscent of images of Hafez, Rumi or the various Shahs in Moghul India or, indeed, of Turkish sultans in the reign of Suleyman, the Magnificent, it is a strange inclusion suggestive of time and space as in the vocabularies and the temporalities that the work slides between.

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