Tate Liverpool: Radical Landscapes
5 May – 4 September 2022
From rural raves in Castlemorton to anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common, this exhibition presents a radical view of the British landscape in art.
Expanding on landscape art as being limited to paintings of lush green hills, enjoy art that reflects the diversity of the British Landscape and the communities that inhabit it.
Radical Landscapes features two new commissions by Davinia-Ann Robinson and Delaine Le Bas. In Rinkeni Pani (Beautiful Water), Le Bas explores her English-Romany heritage to engage with themes of trespass and climate change. Davinia-Ann Robinson’s installation Some Intimacy combines salvaged clay and sound to powerful effect.
Experience Ruth Ewan’s Back to the Fields, which brings live plants and trees into the heart of the exhibition. Immerse yourself in Gustav Metzger’s psychedelic installation Liquid Crystal Environment which harnesses the natural energies of heat and light.
See over 150 paintings, sculptures, photographs, films by artists including Jeremy Deller, Ingrid Pollard, Tanoa Sasraku, Derek Jarman, Hurvin Anderson, Claude Cahun, Alan Lodge and many more.*
Anwar Jalal Shemza's Apple Tree, 1962 will be on display.
Book your tickets here.
*Text cited from the Tate Liverpool's website.
The Barbican: Postwar Modern - New Art in Britain 1945-1965
3 March — 26th June 2022
A revelatory new take on art in Britain after the Second World War, a period when artists had to make sense of an entirely altered world.
Postwar Modern explores the art produced in Britain in the wake of a cataclysmic war. Certainty was gone, and the aftershocks continued, but there was also hope for a better tomorrow. These conditions gave rise to an incredible richness of imagery, forms and materials in the years that followed.
Focusing on ‘the new’, Postwar Modern features 48 artists and around 200 works of painting, sculpture, photography, collage and installation. It explores the subjects that most preoccupied artists, among them the body, the post-atomic condition, the Blitzed streetscape, private relationships and imagined future horizons. As well as reconsidering well-known figures, the exhibition foregrounds artists who came to Britain as refugees from Nazism or as migrants from a crumbling empire, in addition to female artists who have tended to be overlooked.*
Anwar Jalal Shemza's Still Life, City Wall and Magic Carpet will be on display.
Book your tickets here.
*Text cited from The Barbican's website.
Whitechapel Gallery: A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920 – 2020
24 February 2022 – 5 June 2022
Whitechapel Gallery presents a 100-year survey of the studio through the work of artists and image-makers from around the world.
Whether it be an abandoned factory, an attic or a kitchen table, it is the artist’s studio where the great art of our time is conceived and created. In this multi-media exhibition, the wide-ranging possibilities and significance of these crucibles of creativity take centre stage and new art histories around the modern studio emerge through striking juxtapositions of under-recognised artists with celebrated figures in Western art history.
The exhibition brings together more than 100 works by over 80 artists and collectives from Africa, Australasia, South Asia, China, Europe, Japan, the Middle East, North and South America. They range from modern icons such as Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele and Anwar Jalal Shemza, to contemporary figures such as Walead Beshty, Lisa Brice and Kerry James Marshall.
The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, installations and films depicting the studio as work of art and presents documentation of artists’ studios by world-renowned photographers and film-makers. A series of ‘studio corners’ also recreate the actual environments where great art has been produced.*
Anwar Jalal Shemza's Meem will be on display.
Book your tickets here.
*Text cited from Whitechapel Gallery's website
Jhaveri Contemporary: Frieze London 2021
13—17 October 2021
In its first physical presentation at an art fair since the onset of the pandemic, Jhaveri Contemporary returned to Frieze London with new and recent work by Rana Begum, Lubna Chowdhary, Shezad Dawood, Matthew Krishanu, and Harminder Judge alongside rare, historical paintings by Anwar Jalal Shemza and Mohan Samant. Diverse in perspective yet united by their diasporic outlooks, these artists have been exhibited globally to critical acclaim.*
Anwar Jalal Shemza's Green Composition, 1965 was exhibited at Frieze London.
See the artworks here.
*Text cited from Jhaveri Contemporary's website
Museum Collection: Minneapolis Institute of Art
shemza.digital participatory art project
Launched 18th November 2020 - ongoing
Image: Aphra Shemza & Stuart Batchelor working on shemza.digital.
“One circle, one square, one problem, one life is not enough to solve it” Anwar Jalal Shemza, 1962.
In 1962, Anwar Shemza created the painting ‘One to Nine and One to Seven’, inscribed with the quote above in Urdu. In shemza.digital Aphra Shemza & Stuart Batchelor use this as a starting point to continue Shemza’s aesthetic exploration and highlight the importance of migrant artists in British Art History and decolonise the artworld. By creating shemza.digital, a new online and interactive artwork, they ask the public to join them on this journey by creating their own digital paintings in the style of Anwar Jalal Shemza, creating a space for contemplation and artistic activity that is free and accessible to all.
Participant contributions are stored in an online archive with a view to create physical collaborative artworks in the future. The project launched on 18th November 2020 at the Shifting Ground online event curated by Aphra Shemza for National Gallery X. shemza.digital is supported by Arts Council England.
Since the launch the shemza.digital in-browser interactive artwork has been exhibited at the Watermans Digital Weekender and the Art in Flux: Reclaimed virtual exhibition. Alongside this, two new digital and collaborative artworks were created following a public competition held in February 2021 - shemza.digital# 1, a 3D animation and shemza.digital #2, a film based work. These artworks were created from the competition winners’ digital paintings and were first exhibited as part of the Art in Flux: Reclaimed virtual exhibition launched at the National Gallery X in March 2021. This was a brilliant opportunity for the public to have their work exhibited alongside some of the most cutting edge media artists of today.
In early 2021 the UK went into a national lockdown with children returning to homeschooling. In response to this we created some simple online teaching resources for teachers to use whilst the children were self isolating. These were successfully used with eight national and international schools. In March 2021 we held the first online Digital Painting Workshop with the Woodcraft Folk for 10-15 year olds and this was subsequently held with Norden Farm Arts Centre over the Easter Weekend. In June 2021 a specially commissioned adult Islamic Digital Painting Workshop will run with the V&A Museum which connects the project to their collection exploring traditional Islamic art as a starting point for the session. Get in touch if you would like to run a workshop at your venue: email@example.com
Jhaveri Contemporary: Black Beyond Site
10th September - 19th December 2020
Jhaveri Contemporary is proud to announce a group show featuring works by Amina Ahmed, the late Anwar Jalal Shemza, and Parul Thacker.
At first glance, black may seem to cast a unifying cloak over the three bodies of works—Ahmed’s etchings on carbon paper, Shemza’s early India ink-on-muslin-on-paper works, and Thacker’s sooty sculptural scenes. Yet the three take an ‘achromatic’ approach to black, unmooring it from its either/or relationship with light. In their hands, black is haptic: it is an accomplice to an experience that reaches beyond sight, channelling something more visceral—sonic, tactile, kinetic—than visual. The medium—ink, soot, carbon—is not simply the indexical means by which black is conveyed to a surface, but is itself wound up in the movement inherent to this achromatic black-as-activity.
When Ahmed pricks the skin of carbon paper with her compass, she penetrates black as generative: her process enlists the site of blackness (rather than the mere medium of the paper) as a source, a background hum to her syncopated mark-marking. Thacker literally sets contours of her pieces ablaze, the camphor flames leaving in their wake an unpredictable black born of the elemental. Shemza’s inked abstractions and hatching-rhythmed still-lifes reinstate black to its rightful ‘thing-ness’: commuted through the tendrils of open-weave muslin, blackness emerges as freely sinuous, bristling with the dynamism that morphs into frame, fish scales, or billow.
These works are not so much seen as they are felt: achromatic black seeps beyond the neat confines of the viewing state, inviting other senses to revel in what was greedily staked for sight. More*
*Text cited from Jhaveri Contemporary's website
Jhaveri Contemporary: Art Basel Online Viewing Room
17th June - 26th June 2020
MorOriginally conceived as a solo presentation by Mrinalini Mukherjee, Jhaveri Contemporary’s proposal for Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms has expanded to include artists Simryn Gill and Anwar Jalal Shemza. Mukherjee’s etchings from the late 1970s and early 1980s and Shemza’s photograms (also from the early 1980s) have only recently come to light. Presented alongside these exciting discoveries are hand-printed photographs in colour by Gill and sculpture in bronze by Mukherjee. Taken together, the works in this display consider the abiding role of nature as an inspiration, a sanctuary as well as a resilient force, as it reclaims urban spaces in extended periods of lockdown.
Around the time that Mukherjee was working on her prints in New Delhi, Anwar Jalal Shemza was working in a studio at the bottom of his garden in Stafford, England, dreaming of retiring to the foothills of Kashmir, Pakistan. Born in India in 1928, Shemza attended art school in Lahore and was soon recognised as a leading artist and literary figure. He moved to London in the 1950s to study at the Slade School of Fine Art where his art underwent a fundamental transformation. His subsequent work in painting, drawing, and printmaking rigorously deploys geometric and calligraphic forms to engage with dilemmas of identity, culture and place in the modern world.
From 1977 until his untimely death in 1985, Shemza was preoccupied with his Roots paintings, which he intended to show in a touring exhibition in Pakistan. Modest in scale, these works consist of an imagined plant form in the upper half of the picture, while the lower half depicts root forms. Shemza’s sketchbooks suggest that these works involved extensive preparation and much forethought. At the same time, Shemza was experimenting with photograms – images made without a camera – using flowers, ferns and weeds from his garden. Little is known about Shemza’s photograms – they were recently discovered in his archives and are exhibited here for the first time. His references range from the botanical records of nineteenth-century figures like Anna Atkins, whose self published Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions of 1843 is widely considered the first photo book, to the works of early modernists such as László Moholy-Nagy and György Kepes. More*
*Text cited from Jhaveri Contemporary website
Jhaveri Contemporary and Green Art Gallery Dubai: Group Show
5th February - 14th March 2020
Green Art Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition in collaboration with Jhaveri Contemporary from Mumbai with works by Kamrooz Aram, Lubna Chowdhary, Ali Kazim, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Mohan Samant and Lionel Wendt. This marks the gallery’s first collaborative iteration with an international gallery, thereby encouraging the evaluation of existing models in the art market and in exhibition making.
The exhibition pulls into dialogue the work of several artists including Anwar Jalal Shemza ( b. India, 1928 – 1985) and Kamrooz Aram (b. 1978 Shiraz, lives and works in NY), whose practices are both concerned with the historically complicated relationship between ornamental art and modernist abstraction. Similarly ceramist Lubna Chowdhary ( b.1964, Tanzania, lives and work in London) works with clay to create tiled pieces that challenge historical ideas around form, design and ornament. Her interest in architecture is reflected in the haphazard variety of curves, points and angular shapes that are playfully suggestive of a skyline of a city that sits between the east and west.
The exhibition includes another intergenerational pairing between Pakistani artist Ali Kazim (b.1979, Pattoki) and Ceylonese photographer Lionel Wendt (1900–1944). Both artists’ works are crucially preoccupied with the work of the body and portraits of solitary and ordinary men and women; their protagonists are reservoirs of mystery, absorbed in reverie, in inner places of truth and stillness.
In line with both galleries’ interest in researching and exhibiting Arab and South Asian modernist practices, works from Mohan Samant (b. Bombay, 1924 – 2004) are also included in the exhibition. Considered a ‘missing link’ in the narrative of modern Indian art, Samant was a member of the short-lived Progressive Artists’ Group, exhibiting alongside many of India’s leading artists, including FN Souza, SH Raza, and MF Husain. His paintings are a marriage in diverse materials, exploring the boundaries between painting and other disciplines, including sculpture, drawing, and architecture. Unlike the medium-specific practices of the Progressive Group, Samant’s hybrid and playful compositions deploy unusual materials that challenge the distinctions between high and low art, art and craft. *
*Text cited from the Green Art Gallery's website
Jhaveri Contemporary: India Art Fair
30th January - 2nd February 2020
Jhaveri Contemporary is delighted to return to the India Art Fair with eleven artists from its core programme, spanning generations, nationalities, and media.
Included in this presentation is a rare painting by Anwar Jalal Shemza from the 60s, paintings on wood by Mahirwan Mamtani from the 80s, ambitious work using multi-media by Mohan Samant, a new woven tapestry by Monika Correa alongside recent work by artists Rana Begum, Lubna Chowdhary, Manisha Parekh, Matthew Krishanu, Iftikhar Dadi & Elizabeth Dadi, Vasantha Yogananthan and Yamini Nayar.*
*Text cited from the Jhaveri Contemporary Website
Hales Gallery: Art Basel Miami Beach
5th-8th December 2019
Hales is delighted to announce its return to Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 for the Survey section of the fair, with a solo presentation of historic works by abstract painter, Anwar Jalal Shemza. The presentation focuses on paintings which are exemplary of the artist’s inimitable reconciliation of Islamic motif and modernist abstraction, highlighting an oeuvre central to post-colonial reappraisals of 20th century modernism.
Anwar Jalal Shemza was born in Simla, India in 1928 (d. 1985 Stafford, England) and attended The Mayo School of Art in Lahore, Pakistan, graduating in 1947. In 1952, he co-founded the Lahore Art Circle – a group of young artists interested in modernism and abstraction, rebelling against the uniform socialist realist style espoused by some progressives. In 1956, already an established artist in Pakistan, he relocated to England to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. This move marked a significant change in the artist’s outlook, life and career.
Shemza’s dedicated practice was informed by his migration – synthesising cultural references, from calligraphic forms and carpet patterns to the environments around him: Mughal architecture from Lahore, Pakistan and the rural landscapes of Stafford, England. In his compositions, layered elements are distilled into an intensive exploration of geometric abstraction and pattern, built up mostly using just two simple forms: the square and circle. Shemza’s practice can be encapsulated by his 1962 statement, ‘One circle, one square, one problem, one life is not enough to solve it.’
Through extensive experimentation, he cultivated an outstanding formalist lexis. Shemza’s calligraphic abstraction is universalising – unmistakably repeating the shape of the Roman letters B and D with the fluid gesture of Arabic lettering, the artist suggests that ‘my paintings are not only to look at but are also writings to be read.’ This is exemplified in the work, Letter (1976), in which symbols insinuate alphabetic characters and the horizontal structure suggests lines on a page. In Composition in Green and Black (1965) the letters become blocks of subtly abstracted geometry and colour, combining a modern aesthetic of experimentation with his own personal exploration. The seminal piece was shown in the pivotal 1989 exhibition The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain at Hayward Gallery, as well as being recently selected for the fourteenth edition of the Sharjah Biennial: Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019), curated by Omar Kholeif.
Shemza has had many solo exhibitions, including a retrospective at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (1997) and in more recent years, a spotlight display at Tate Britain (2015-16). His work has been included in significant group exhibitions such as Haus der Kunst’s Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945 – 1965 in Munich, Germany (2016 – 17) and Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination-Repetition at Manchester Art Gallery, UK (2018). Shemza’s work can be found in many public collections including Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, USA; Tate, London, UK; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Lahore Museum, Pakistan; Pakistan National Council of Art, Islamabad, Pakistan; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE.
*Text Cited from Hales Gallery website
Museum Collection: Sharjah Art Foundation
The Estate of Anwar Jalal Shemza are delighted to announce that Jhaveri Contemporary and Hales Gallery have facilitated the placement of work at the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE.
Hales Gallery: Frieze London
3rd - 6th October 2019
Hales is delighted to announce its return to Frieze London for its 2019 edition, with a group presentation of esteemed artists from the gallery’s roster – Basil Beattie, Sunil Gupta, Gladys Nilsson, Carolee Schneemann and Anwar Jalal Shemza. Diverse in perspective and their respective practices, their work is being exhibited globally to much critical acclaim.
Anwar Jalal Shemza (b. 1928 Simla, India - d. 1985 Stafford, UK) repeatedly sought to break down the structure of shapes to come to a resolved understanding. Parallels can be drawn between a looping structure of language found in his fictional writing and the arrangements he developed through painting. In his compositions, layered elements are distilled into an intensive exploration of geometric abstraction and pattern, built up mostly using just two simple forms: the square and the circle. Square Composition 13 (1963) is exemplary of an unwavering dedication to form and process. Through extensive experimentation, the artist cultivated an outstanding formalist vocabulary in the tradition of Mondrian or Klee with the calligraphic strokes of the Arabic alphabet. Key works from Shemza’s oeuvre were recently exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019), curated by Omar Kholeif. In 2015 a selection of his works were presented in a BP display at Tate Britain, London.
*Text Cited from Hales Gallery website
Museum Collection: M+ Hong Kong
Leaving the Echo Chamber
Sharjah Biennale 14
7th March 2019 - 10th June 2019
Sharjah Biennial 14 presents 13 of Shemza’s works created between 1961 and 1969, surveying his diverse influences during this transitional period and the decisively modern diasporic perspective examined through the prism of both Islamic and Western aesthetics. Drawn broadly and deeply from his surroundings, these works reflect the influence of carpet patterns, calligraphic forms, the Mughal architecture of Lahore and the rural landscape of Stafford, England. The works also elaborate on Western modernism’s interest in geometry and abstraction seen in the work of artists Paul Klee, Piet Mondria, and Wassily Kandinsky. For the artist, the circle and the square held special places in his art practice. As he inscribed in Urdu script on the surface of a painting from this period, ‘One circle, one square, one problem: one life is not enough to solve it.’
*Text Cited from Sharjah Art Foundation website
Speech Acts: Reflection, Imagination and Repetition
Manchester Art Gallery
Curated by Hammad Nasar and Kate Jesson
25th May 2018 - 22nd April 2019
What stories emerge to frame the visitor’s encounters with the art that they see, and cloak the art that they don’t? How do these stories change over time?
Through the work of more than 40 artists, Speech Acts: Reflection-Imagination- Repetition considers how public museums reflect and shape our collective imagination, and examines how exhibitions can affect these shared narratives. This exhibition shows how artworks can nurture new stories if they are shown in ways beyond the limited frames of biography and identity.
Comprising more than 70 works and archival documents ranging from the 18th to the 21st century, Speech Acts is drawn primarily from four public collections: Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford, John Rylands Library (The University of Manchester), Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth. It has been developed as part of, and in conversation with Black Artists and Modernism: a three-year research project led by University of the Arts London in collaboration with Middlesex University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. *
*Text Cited from Manchester Art Gallery Website
Anwar Jalal Shemza: Paintings from the 1960s
10th May - 23rd June 2018
Hales Gallery, London
Hales Gallery is delighted to announce Paintings from the 1960s, a solo exhibition of works by Anwar Jalal Shemza (1928 – 85). The exhibition focuses on paintings from early-mid 1960s, created in the decade following Shemza’s relocation from Pakistan to the UK.
Born in Simla, India in 1928 to Kashmiri and Punjabi parents, Shemza attended Mayo School of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1956, already an established artist and writer in his home land, he relocated to England to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. This move marked a significant change in the artist’s life and practice. Astonished at a statement by famed art historian E.H. Gombrich, who characterised Islamic art as purely ‘functional’ in one of his lectures attended by Shemza, the artist abandoned his previous work and embarked on a journey to create a dramatically different style and visual language.
The bold abstractions in Paintings from the 1960s represent this pivotal development for the artist, whose unique diasporic perspective allowed him to explore modernism through the double prism of Islamic and Western aesthetics. Throughout his career, Shemza’s visual vocabulary drew on an array of deeply studied and lived experience, from carpet patterns and calligraphic forms to the environments around him: Mughal architecture from Lahore to the rural landscapes of Stafford in England. *
*Text Cited from Hales Gallery Website
Kamrooz Aram, Anwar Shemza
24th January - 25th February 2018
Hales Project Room New York
Hales Gallery is pleased to announce Kamrooz Aram, Anwar Jalal Shemza, an exhibition to be presented at the Hales Project Room, New York. This project at 64 Delancey Street coincides with Aram’s solo exhibitions at Atlanta Contemporary (open January 2018) and The Modern Fort Worth (open March 2018). In Spring 2018, Hales Gallery London will hold a solo exhibition of works by Anwar Jalal Shemza.
The present exhibition pulls into dialogue the work of two artists—Kamrooz Aram (b. Iran, 1978) and Anwar Jalal Shemza (b. India, 1928 – 1985)—concerned with the relationship between ornamental art and modernist abstractions. In the works selected for this exhibition, form and process both contribute to the investigation of the line drawn between “art” and “ornament.” And by juxtaposing two generations of artists, the works feed into rich investigations of the historical patterns of artistic development, erasure, and abstraction.*
Read a review of the exhibition on Art Forum here.
*Text and image cited from Hales Gallery website
Hales Gallery at the Armory Show 2018, New York
8th - 11th March 2018
Hales Gallery is proud to announce its participation in The Armory Show 2018, with an international presentation of work by five artists whose work, spanning the past five decades and reflecting the vision of the gallery’s own programme, explores questions of politics and aesthetics through powerful expressions of material, geometry and colour.
Pakistani-born Anwar Jalal Shemza created his square and circle composition series in 1963, just a few years after moving to London in 1956 and abandoning a career as an established figurative painter. These bold abstractions represent a pivotal moment for Shemza, whose unique perspective allowed him to merge his deep understanding of Western geometry and Islamic aesthetics to create his own irreducible images. In Shemza’s words: ‘One circle, one square, one problem, one life is not enough to solve it.' *
*Text and image cited from Hales Gallery website
South Asian Modernists 1953-63
Curated by Amrita Jhaveri
The Whitworth Manchester
30th September 2017 - 15th April 2018
South Asian Modernists explores the works of Pakistani and Indian artists who worked with Victor Musgrave between 1953-63.
Musgrave ran the experimental Gallery One space where South Asia’s most eminent modernists artists were exhibited. Amongst the most important exhibitions held was Seven Indian Painters in Europe (1958) which received critical acclaim and introduced Indian artists to the British market. This exhibition at the Whitworth reflects the pioneering efforts of Musgrave across the decade to introduce South Asian Modernists. Drawing exclusively on works from the 1953-63 period and capturing the creative atmosphere of the time.
The exhibition includes works by S H Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, Paritosh Sen, Avinash Chandra, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Francis Newton Souza, Ram Kumar, Laxman Pai, M F Husain and Mohan Samant. Alongside the paintings on display are works on paper and archival material, such as exhibition catalogues and photographs by the renowned photographer Ida Kar, Musgrave’s wife at the time.
The exhibition is co-curated with Amrita Jhaveri, an expert in Modern and Contemporary Indian art, gallerist, author and collector. Works are kindly being lent by both public and private collections, including the Hepworth Wakefield, Grosvenor Gallery, Leicestershire County Council, The Ruth Borchard Collection c/o Piano Nobile and Lincoln College, Oxford.