Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq is a Scottish artist based in London. His sculptures and drawings explore the nature of shape, line and form in relation to mark-making materials and process. In this dialogue between marker, mark and surface, each piece is brought to fruition using the simplest, most crucial configuration of detail.
A sustained examination of his work quickly opens up formal questions about light and space. The sculpture and installation pieces could be described as a towering pile-up of strict surfaces, pared back, razor-sharp and vast. They speak a language of simplicity and endurance, identifying and extracting common qualities from a vast range of traditions including the Bauhaus, Euclidean geometry and Futurism, while divorcing the media from their traditional associations of density and colour.
How Dirty Is Your Glossy Black (2010-13) is a wall installation of silver duct tape that shimmers with an iridescence, which together with its pristine geometry conveys a sense of great lightness, as well as reflecting colour subject to the viewer’s navigation of the piece. Shown as part of Bold Tendencies across the rooftop wall of a South London car park, it was assembled from floor to ceiling on an interior wall of a Dubai industrial unit for The Moving Museum’s inaugural show TECTONIC.
An earlier sculptural work, Pyramids (2010-11) resembles a giant bladed star, and with it lost dreams of science fiction and a prophecy of a future beauty as yet unrealised; in the gallery space it functions as a three- dimensional conglomerate of jet-black fragments that assume an impossible poise, gleaming as if brand-new. “It looks like I made it yesterday, and like I made it tomorrow,” Ashfaq quips.
“The straight line is one that travels on the same axis in space, without deviation,’” he continues. “So a line drawn with a ruler depends on how true and straight the rule is and secondly, how true the marking instrument is.”
Ashfaq’s process as he conceives a work is highly considered. His technical pencil drawings of dark glossy orbs, when the graphite catches the light, are revealed to be millions of precise lines, collapsing to a point of origin. Although the works exude an anonymous, almost industrial feel, they are conceived by hand and instinctively refined. The mirroring surfaces force the eye to recede, simultaneously revealing and obscuring contours and volume, challenging the reliability of the viewer’s perspective. “My work reflects that ambiguous spatial density that we are set within,” he says.
Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq (b.1982) is a graduate of Slade School of Art and Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. He has exhibited as part of TECTONIC, the Moving Museum’s inaugural show during Art Dubai 2013, at the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2012), Jhaveri Contemporary Project Space, Mumbai (2011) and as part of the Bold Tendencies 4 in Peckham, South London (2010). He is represented by the Hannah Barry Gallery, London.