RECEPTIONTHURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 7 – 9 PMIn Person, Mask Required
I climb, I backtrack, I float
Mindy Solomon gallery and curator Ché Morales are pleased to present a solo exhibition by artist Nadia Waheed.
This recent series of work by Nadia Waheed marks a shift into new visual territory; sweeping mountainscapes, lush forests, still water – figure and nature weave together to build a picture of the internal narrative of the artist during these last eight pandemic months. Inherently autobiographical, the colorful, allegorical paintings reflect the quiet focus and intention the artist held for herself in the midst of the cacophonous sounds of modernity. Contending not just with the overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear felt in the face of a social and economic cataclysm, Waheed dealt also with the deterioration and near death of her father. The struggle of contending with this internal and external strife as well as the challenge of finding a way, not just to move forward, but more importantly, to make meaning, was the main objective of the artist. This work was borne from the tiny space between uncertainty and impossibility, a one inch gap where resilience lives, where survival lives. I climb, I backtrack, I float is the visual diary of someone attempting to find peace in calamity and clarity in muddied waters.
The paintings guide us through – Message From Janus (Day One) marks the beginning of our timeline and also sets the tone of the artist’s intention. A nod to the two faced Roman god, Janus, who symbolises new beginnings and transitions, time and duality, two figures stand facing each other, different silks hung from their necks. One grayscale figure stands eyes open, at the ready, hovering still over running water. The other in shades of muted brown stands eyes closed, seemingly listening; an electric line of yellow connect the two over the softened treeline. The grey and brown figures weave between rich color, the contrast mimicking the sense of displacement and emotional upheaval the artist felt for much of the pandemic. In The First Three Months (Mountains), a figure in shades of grey hovers high in the stratosphere, the curvature of the earth bending behind her. She is suspended above, far away, alone, above brown and orange rock. She can see everything and nothing at once.
The vibrancy of the light filtering through the dense green forest of Śūnyatā, Kenosis hums at a quiet resonance, the gold embroidery of the greyscale figure’s red net bridal dupatta glittering through the leaves. According to Buddhist philosophy, Śūnyatā is the spiritual voidness from which all entities and connections spring from; it is not a negation, rather a primordial and necessary door to self-liberation. Kenosis, coming from Christian theology, is the ‘self-emptying’ that Jesus undertook to ready himself for the power of God’s will. The recontextualization of “emptiness” from an inherently negative connotation into ‘phase one’ of a greater spiritual evolution sat at the core of Waheed’s intentions. In Nexus a high contrast figure brushes eyelashes with a star studded universal being.
The largest and most recent work, The Last Three Months (Lilies) is Waheed’s depiction of her ‘phase two’. Suspended on the surface of a sea of lily pads that stretch deep into the horizon, a greyscale figure kneels in the water, glittering ripples moving outward. Hands cupped open in her lap, a halo of flyaways illuminated in the setting light. This isn’t a painting of enlightenment, this isn’t pure elevation or nirvana. She is still connected, still earth-bound and carrying mortal burden. Her expression is weighted, but her shoulders relaxed. She is in balance, harmonious. The frisson of internal and external is quieted. The unnecessary has fallen away, and only the truth remains.
About Nadia Waheed
Born in Saudi Arabia but originally from Pakistan, Nadia Waheed (b. 1992, BFA 2015 School of the Art Institute of Chicago) makes large scale allegorical figurative paintings that are partially autobiographical and explore female selfhood, vulnerability, and cultural trauma.
She has lived and worked in Austin since mid 2018.
About Ché Morales
Ché Morales is a Brooklyn-based curator, experiential designer, and self-proclaimed art junkie with an insatiable appetite for unique, mind-blowing aesthetics. Morales’ curatorial approach is to present groundbreaking material in new and thought provoking ways. He believes art should be a seismic experience to remember.
Ranging from large-scale murals and art installations to branded cultural events, Morales’ curatorial work has been covered by Artnet, Juxtapoz, The Creators Project, The Huffington Post, W Magazine and Whitewall Magazine. In 2017, he housed his practice by founding ABSTRKT, a creative studio with a focus on art, design, and experiences. Clients include Nike, New Balance, Adidas, The Standard Hotel, VR’t Ventures, StockX, New York City Ballet, and more.