Sapar Contemporary is proud to present Lust for Life, an exhibition by the contemporary Malaysian master, Ahmad Zakii Anwar. This body of work hinges on two series of figures and still lifes -- art historical forms that are both classical and universal, but re-conceived critically and defiantly with innovations that are personal to Zakii’s practice. This exhibition, Lust for Life, centers on a group of his finely detailed individual charcoal male nudes abstracted from any background, and fruits and vegetables set in relation to each other on emptied tables.
Working initially from live figures, but then from images of those models in his studio, Zakii draws sinewed, singular male nudes, partially disembodying them as thighs dissolve into backgrounds and headless figures float in space. (When heads do appear, faces are turned away from the viewer, retaining a certain abstraction and anonymity.) While referencing live figures — and seen by Zakii as autobiographical, these nudes appear statuesque and stilled.
Zakii’s fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, adhere to art historical conventions of still-life or nature morte, but appear animated and held in a state of living suspense as some even seem ready to dance together. These paintings are about relationships, about the tension of two opposing and distinct bodies coming together. In this way, unexpectedly perhaps, these works take on a sensual, even sexualized, charge that the nudes resist, in part through the phallic impression of certain elements.
A leading artist in Malaysia, revered by younger generations, Zakii has quietly subverted forms and conventions of the country’s art scene, which has largely favored abstraction in the context of painting.
The exhibit runs from September 6th-October 15th. There will be an opening reception on September 6, from 6-8 pm.
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