Shezad Dawood

Much discussed in recent years, Dawood uses his research of Sufism and other earlier cosmologies in a mesmerizing film Piercing Brightness. Drawing from his immigrant roots, the artist foregrounds questions of post-migratory aesthetics and their effect on culture, race, and ethics on a local and globalized scale. Moreover Dawood exposes the intermingling of structures that underpin received cultural narratives. He negotiates between personal and collective memory building on existing narratives, connecting histories to fictions, and explores converging utopian aspirations via cosmology, science fiction and symbolism.

Dawood’s project Piercing Brightness was initially presented at Modern Art Oxford and provided an ambitious setting for large-scale kinetic sculpture, performances, paintings and experimental film work. Produced over the course of three years, the exhibition illuminated the cross-disciplinary nature of Dawood’s inquiry into mysticism, spiritual histories, metaphysics and intercultural terrains of belief. As a prelude and a centerpiece of the exhibition, the video Trailer provided a dreamy visual landscape of experimental sci-fi, blending visual effects, overlaid images and tied in various aspects of documentary into a complex and lurid narrative. The film features seven characters and four languages – Arabic, English, Mandarin, and Urdu, one of which presumes to be adopted for alien communication.

The artist also presents a keen interest in textiles, making both neon and fabric works that resemble maps or storyboards of ongoing research that later manifest in video pieces. With textiles, in particular, Dawood finds a foundation and allegory for larger narrative systems he addresses. Fabric serves as an exemplar of form and pattern, storing complex histories of economic, political and aesthetic data that often require much unpacking and active engagement. Painting continues to provide a framework and a means of recording, note-taking, and independent processing. It is an essential process that aids in articulating and conceptualizing ideas for more collaborative video productions.


Shezad Dawood is a London-born artist of Indian and Pakistani descent. He trained at Central St. Martin’s and the Royal College of Art and received a Ph.D. from Leeds Metropolitan University. The artist has exhibited internationally including a recent major solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford in 2012, and recently produced an immersive sculptural light piece titled “New Dream Machine Project” for Parasol Unit in London. Dawood’s other solo and group shows include the 53rd Venice Biennale;Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009 at Tate Britain; Re-Imagining Asia at The New Art Gallery, Walsall. Dawood has presented solo exhibitions at Feature: Architecture, Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Journey to the End of the Night, Riccardo Crespi Gallery, Milan; Until the End of the World, Third Line, Dubai; If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Paradise Row, London; and more.